The contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has already inspired wall-to-wall media coverage and unprecedented levels of spending, and the furor will only intensify in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 vote. But what does it all mean for New York City’s real estate industry, and how are real estate professionals engaging with their would-be elected officials?
This month, The Real Deal mapped out the intersection of real estate and politics, in what will be the first presidential election since the U.S. Supreme Court rewrote the rules on campaign financing and the U.S. Census redrew the boundaries of voting districts.
In recent months, the Obama vs. Romney matchup has, understandably, taken center stage. But the two are not spending much time talking about housing policy on the campaign trail (see related story: Government briefs) and there are a slew of other candidates running for office in New York City seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives, the New York State Assembly and the state Senate. (See TRD’s Ballot guide.)
(New Yorkers will have to wait until 2013 to vote in the City Council and mayoral elections and until 2014 to vote on statewide candidates like the attorney general or governor.)
The new crop of elected officials will chart the course on capital gains taxes, rent-stabilization laws and a host of other issues that could affect the industry in the coming years.
But the candidates will be running in slightly different geographic districts than in the past, due to the controversial redistricting that took place after the 2010 Census revealed new national population trends.
First, New York State lost two Congressional districts — dropping to 27 from 29 — because its population grew more slowly than the nation’s as a whole.
Second, the state Senate grew by one seat, to 63 from 62, which will no doubt be helpful in the event of a tie.
Lastly, the borders of state and federal districts have been rejiggered, meaning that some elected officials will be losing former constituents to other districts, or representing certain neighborhoods for the first time.
For example, Nydia Velázquez represents New York’s 12th Congressional District, which, until recently, covered parts of the Lower East Side, Greenpoint, Bushwick and Park Slope. Now, however, redistricting has eliminated Greenpoint from the area, and her home turf has been rechristened the 7th Congressional District.
The 15th Congressional district, which Charles Rangel has represented since 1971, has also changed. Now known as the 13th Congressional District, the area previously covered a sliver of real estate on the West Side of Manhattan extending south to West 72nd Street, but now it goes no further south than 96th Street.
Luckily for Rangel and Velázquez, they were not redistricted out of their own homes. But, as TRD reports, the place where a politician chooses to live can have an impact on their policies and positions. (See Politicos’ palaces.)
This is also the first presidential race since the high court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which effectively removed limits on campaign spending by outside groups, provided they do not coordinate with official campaigns. As a result, this election season has been awash in money.
On the state level, the real estate industry has long been a main source of funding for legislators, who often have more control than their federal counterparts over the laws that affect the city’s landlords, developers and brokers. (See Show me the money.)
On the federal level, Obama and Romney’s campaigns have collectively raised more than half a billion dollars, including donations from some prominent real estate executives (see In surprise move, Obama bests Romney for NYC real estate cash).
At press time, it was still unclear who would make it to the White House or which party would take control of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
With just a few weeks left until voters head to the polls, it’s still anyone’s game. What will the results mean for the industry? That will play out in the next four years.