The National Association of Home Builders on Tuesday reported that a clear majority of voters, including self-identified Democrats, Republicans and Independents, supports maintaining the mortgage interest deduction, including for high-value mortgages, incomes over $250,000 per year and second or vacation homes.
Overall, the survey found 73% of all voters agreed with the statement, "In general, do you think it is appropriate and reasonable for the federal government to provide tax incentives to promote home-ownership?" Not surprisingly, Democrats came in at 79% support, with Republicans at 71% and Independents at 68%. Support was also 68% among those who said they support the Tea Party.
That support level held across whites, blacks and Hispanics, at 73%, 74% and 72% respectively. It also held in the low-to-mid 70% range in Congressional districts identified as either held by freshman GOP members or considered up for grabs by a pair of well-regarded political handicapping firms, Cook and Cillizza.
By party, 63% of Republicans, 56% of Independents and 55% of Democrats said they would be less likely to support a Congressional candidate who supported a repeal of the mortgage interest deduction. When asked whether they agreed with the notion that the MID benefits higher-income groups and eliminating it would help reduce the deficit, only 29% said yes, with Democrats at 36%, Republicans at 26% and Independents at 25%.
The intensity of support for MID was also evident in the survey results, NAHB said. When asked if they supported or opposed eliminating MID, 53% said they were strongly opposed. Lowering the deduction was opposed by 63%, with 39% strongly opposed. Dropping deductibility for home equity loan interest was opposed by 58%, 36% strongly. Dropping MID for $250K-plus households was opposed by 55%, 33% strongly. Scaling the deduction back for mortages over $500K was opposed by 53%, 30% strongly. And dropping the deduction for second or vacation homes was opposed by 53%, 29% strongly.
Also not surprisingly, the electorate is not particularly knowledgeable about the debate now underway in Washington over the size of mortgage down payments, with only 20% of the sample reporting having even heard of the issue. Still, of those who had, an overwhelming 92% said they thought raising the down payment requirement would make buying a home much more difficult.
Among the overall sample, when the figure 20% was applied to the down payment requirement, support and opposition were dead even at 49%, with the most support for the higher down payment coming from those over 55 and those who own their homes outright. Among 18-55 year olds with a mortgage, 58% opposed raising the down payment requirement to 20%. Among renters 18-54, 59% opposed the 20% down payment.
The NAHB survey was conducted May 3-9 by Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners among 2,000 likely 2012 voters. It has a margin of error of +2.19%. A slideshow of the results can be found here. Results of the survey regarding voter views of home ownership, which also showed strong support, were released last week. The associated slide show can be accessed here. The audio of a conference call on that portion of the survey is available here.