Stock Market Volatility Dominates Attention of Voters Over Political Headlines

More than half of U.S. households in 2016 had an investment affected by the stock market, according to Federal Reserve data published in September that found 52.1 percent had at least one retirement account, like a 401(k) or an individual retirement account, while 13.9 percent of American households held stocks.

At the same time, stock market participation can vary significantly by state. A separate report published last year by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that Mississippi had the lowest market participation rate, at 10.5 percent, and Connecticut having highest, at 26.6 percent.

Brandon Barford, a partner at Beacon Policy Advisors LLC in Washington, said in a Tuesday interview that voter attentiveness toward the recent market sell-off could have acute political effects in areas where retail investors are abundant, like the suburbs.

Suburban voters appear more attuned to the market swings than urban and rural voters, according to the Morning Consult/Politico poll, which found that 49 percent of suburbanites were aware of the market downturn, compared to 38 percent of city dwellers and 39 percent of rural residents.

Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center for American Progress, said in a Tuesday phone interview that increased public attention toward markets could reflect the 2008 financial crisis and the way it created economic hardships, even for people who weren’t invested in the stock market.

“The last time we had a really big crash, in fact it was probably the people who were not in the market who were most harmed by it,” Madowitz said.