WSJ echoes me on housing and GOP

Haven’t I been saying this?

The housing crunch is most severe in some of the most hotly contested political battleground states, a trend that could spell trouble for Republicans next year.

Six of the 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates in the country last month are considered by leaders of both parties to be swing states. They include the two biggest prizes of the past two presidential campaigns: Florida, which came in No. 2 on the list, with one foreclosure filing for every 248 households in September; and Ohio, No. 7, with one foreclosure for every 319 households, according to a survey by RealtyTrac Inc., a California property-research company. …

"For better or worse, as the incumbent party, Republicans own the economy," ISI Group Inc., a stock brokerage that specializes in policy research, said in a recent report. "Therefore, falling home prices, particularly if they lead to broader economic woes, will hurt Republican prospects for maintaining the White House and picking up seats in Congress."

In the Republican presidential candidates’ first debate focused on economic issues last week, none raised housing concerns.

Why?

One reason for Republican silence may be that, for all the headlines about a housing crunch, the issue doesn’t rank high in national polls. In an early September Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, when people were asked to name two items that should be "the top priorities for President Bush to address," 7% cited "the home-mortgage and housing markets."

Elections are determined at the margins though. The margins in Presidential politics are margins in swing states. Housing is a big one of those.