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Foreclosure Depresses Voter Turnout: Neighborhood Disruption and the 2008 Presidential Election in California


  • The authors are willing to share replication materials for the ecological models reported and coding and information about analysis procedures for the individual-level model using the CalVoter file available from the California Secretary of State Elections Division. This research was supported in part by the University of California, Riverside, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science Chancellor's Strategic Investment Fund. The authors thank D. Xavier Medina Vidal for his help with mapping in ArcGIS, David Crow, Gary Dymski, Ken Fernandez, Jackie Filla, Ellen Reese, Jaime Settle, and Jan Stets for helpful conversations about the project, and Young Lee, Israel Landa, and Adriana Aboulwafa for their research assistance.

Direct correspondence to Vanesa Estrada-Correa, Department of Sociology, University of California, 1222 Watkins Hall, Riverside, CA 92521–0419 (



We investigate whether voters in communities with high rates of foreclosure will find it more difficult to participate in elections, given social disruptions associated with home loss in their neighborhoods.


We estimate the community-level effects of foreclosure on turnout rates in California ZIP Codes during the 2008 presidential election and an individual-level turnout model using housing data merged with California voter data.


Foreclosure rates are associated with reduced participation independent of local economic conditions, rates of education, ethnic composition, or individual partisanship, age, and habitual participation.


Given the relationship between the foreclosure crisis and political participation, this research suggests the need for further investigation. We are especially interested in the potential that housing foreclosure further exacerbates ethnic and economic inequality due to the preponderance of subprime loans, distressed mortgages, and foreclosures in communities of color and lower socioeconomic status.