The ‘Mortgage Mom’

By DALE McFEATTERS

Every election cycle, politicians, political scientists and reporters vie to characterize a type of voter who epitomizes a vital swing bloc.

Perhaps it got most specific in 1970 when the book "The Real Majority" identified that cycle’s critical voter as a 47-year-old machinist’s wife living in Dayton, Ohio.

Others — Middle America, Silent Americans, Reagan Democrats — were more broad. In 1992 and ’96 it was the Soccer Moms, harried, minivan-driving suburban housewives. Then it was Security Moms, with a paramount interest in their families’ safety. Somewhere in there NASCAR Dads made an appearance, as did a rare sub-genus, the South Park Republicans.

Now The Washington Post, in searching for bellwethers for this election cycle, has offered up "Mortgage Moms" — "voters whose sense of well-being is freighted with anxiety about their families’ financial squeeze."

There may be something to it, because the White House has been bedeviled by the fact that President Bush is not getting the credit for an economy that by all conventional measures is quite robust.

This is not just the voters being perverse. As the Post notes, the real median hourly wage has fallen slightly since 2003, gasoline prices have been a real hit and consumers are racking up record debt in relation to their income.

If the Post is right, there is a bloc of apprehensive voters up for grabs. Even now, campaign consultants are fine-tuning their candidates’ message to reach two kinds of Mortgage Moms — the Conventional Mortgage Moms and the Adjustable Rate Mortgage Moms.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)

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