Any politcos who have their eye on eliminating the mortgage interest deduction had better take a look at this: The National Association of Home Builders reports that a poll it commissioned earlier this month shows nearly 80% of U.S. voters will support the mortgage interest deduction--at the expense of politicians who do not.

According to the poll, 79% of all respondents, both owners and renters, believe the federal government should provide tax incentives to promote homeownership. Even when told that eliminating the mortgage interest deduction would help ease the federal budget deficit, 72% said they opposed any proposal to abolish it. Among that group, 76% of Republicans, 75% of Independents and 64% of Democrats oppose eliminating the deduction. Meanwhile, 75% of home owners and 55% of renters also oppose doing away with the home mortgage interest deduction.

The message to politcos: 70% said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who proposed to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction, and 63% would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports reducing this tax deduction.

When asked to rate the importance of preserving tax deductions in the current tax code, 81% said it's important to keep the deduction of mortgage interest on a primary home, a virtual tie with medical expenses (82%). Another 76% cited the importance of keeping the deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes. Renters said the mortgage interet deduction, supported by 71%, was second only to those for medical expenses. Among renters, 82% favor providing tax incentives to promote homeownership,

"As the midterm elections draw near, voters are sending a resounding message to Congress and the Administration: Don't meddle with the mortgage interest deduction or other tax incentives that support homeownership," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

The poll was conducted via telephone by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. from Sept. 9 through 12 among 800 likely voters nationwide. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.46%.