Scott Walker Is Running for President

“Today, today in this state, people who are actually elected by local property taxpayers literally run our schools. And that means we got rid of things like seniority and tenure. that means we can hire and fire based on merit, and pay based on performance, and put the best and the brightest in our classrooms."

On Monday, July 13, 2015 in Waukesha, Wisconsin 
Sources: C-Span, Time (see below for comments on transcript discrepancies)

The Context: Walker's announcement speech centers around his record as governor of Wisconsin with a specific emphasis on legislation passed since he took office. Among them are the changes made to the state's policies on teachers he described in this quote. (See here for atlas entries on Education.) Within the larger context of the speech itself, however, is the repeated importance of property ownership in this section of the announcement. This emphasis was not included in the released transcript of the speech, and it seems instead was added by Walker in his delivery of the announcement. 

While Walker's speech as given differs in minor phrasing throughout the announcement, in this portion the substantive changes carry with them a focus on ownership. A few examples of this focus (phrases in the speech, but not in the transcript are in italics):

  • "...elected by local property taxpayers." 
  • "We reduced [lowered] taxes by two billion dollars. In fact, we lowered taxes on individuals, on employers, and property owners."
  • " We passed [enacted] Castle Doctrine and 'Concealed Carry' so we can protect ourselves, our families, and our property."

Historically and recently, property ownership has been tied to rights, privileges, and benefits, in American life as well as tied to the American Dream. These range from original voting rights limited to (along with other criteria) property owners to property taxes funding their local school districts in most of the country today. Additionally, homeowners with mortgages receive the federal mortgage tax deduction. Since last decade's foreclosure crisis, the stability of homeownership has been an on-again/off-again topic of discussion, as has its link to critical economic infrastructures and the rise of renting. With all this in mind and the apparent importance Walker placed on property ownership, we asked

How many households own their homes rather than rent across the country? And which groups own or rent more than others?

We want to acknowledge that there is always more than one way to describe the data. The map above tells the story of how many more homeowners there are than renters across the country, but obscures the fact that substantial numbers of renters account for households. As a result, we offer a second map of the same information, telling the same story as the percentage of occupied housing units that are rented.