Housing is the single biggest item eating most Americans’ paychecks every month. It’s time Democrats made it a centerpiece of their agenda.

by Abdul El-Sayed, The New Republic

Over the summer, Democratic legislative successes coupled with dropping gas prices worked to drive attention away from the precarity of the economy. Meanwhile, rage continued to seethe at the Supreme Court’s abrogation of reproductive rights. Signs were pointing in the right direction for Democrats heading into the fall midterms.

But polls are tightening in critical swing elections. A recent Siena/New York Times poll found a massive swing toward Republicans among independent women. And it all goes back to inflation—which was, along with “the economy,” rated the most important issue facing the country. Last week’s consumer price index showed just how stubborn inflation can be, sustaining at 8.0 percent year on year.

Civil servant sticks a notice of eviction of the tenant, close up

But when voters name inflation as their top political issue, it would be absurd to assume they’re talking about the economic phenomenon by which currency loses value because of a mismatch in supply and demand. Rather, they mean the specific way rising prices affect them. And that’s not just one thing—it’s many things depending whom you’re talking to. Beyond addressing inflation itself, the political response to inflation has to address the broadest, deepest manifestations of inflation on American voters. That requires answering a psychological question wrapped around an empirical one. What aspect of “inflation” is the biggest, most common, and most consistent? It isn’t the price of gas. It is—by far—housing.

So as we head into the midterms, Democrats would do well to talk more about housing. After all, median asking rent in America is over $2,000 for the first time in our history—up more than 15 percent since last year. That’s driven, in part, by millions of Americans who’ve been priced out of buying as interest rates skyrocket because of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. The average size of a new mortgage also set a record: $453,000. Those would-be buyers are being forced into an already overheated rental market.

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