In the opening “preconference” session at Schwab Impact 2016 in San Diego on Monday, both Jeffrey Kleintop and Liz Ann Sonders suggested that what the thousands in attendance really wanted to hear was Greg Valliere on the presidential election. Then Valliere delivered.
The chief global strategist of Horizon Investments began his speech by relating the “funniest thing I’ve heard all year.” On a recent trip to New York, Valliere had a conversation with a cab driver, a U.S. citizen originally from Romania, who expressed dismay about his presidential election choices. When Valliere asked him who he planned to vote for, the driver responded with dismay, “I like them both equally.”
After the laughter died down, Valliere got right to the point by saying there are two possibilities about the election. “Hillary wins by four or five points,” she said, “or she wins by a blowout,” meaning a margin of around 14 points.
Knowing his audience well, Valliere than said the big point about the election for the markets is, “if Hillary wins big,” helping the Democrats to regain not only the Senate but the House of Representatives as well, “then you’ve got the troika of Hlllary, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Have a nice afternoon!”
Valliere said there’s a “zero percent chance of a tax hike if the House stays Republican,” since it will be led by the staunchly anti-tax Republicans Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as speaker and Kevin Brady of Texas as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Why does Clinton win? Three reasons, Valliere said. First, “she’s got a great ground game,” meaning the organization she has on the local level throughout the country. That ground game “could be determinative,” he said, accounting for a good one or two points in the general election.
Second, “Democrats benefit from the electoral college math,” and gave a shout out to the website 270towin.com where users can select different scenarios where Clinton or Donald Trump win a given state to see how close they could get to being elected. “There’s no way Trump gets to 270, Valliere said flatly.
The third reason is that the “demographics of this country have changed so fundamentally.” He quoted “my good friend and the smartest political consultant out there,” Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, where what he said about the 2012 election still holds true. “There aren’t enough old white men out there,” Valliere quoted Cook, “to elect Mitt Romney.”
So Valliere believes Clinton will win, but did present a caveat about pollsters famously getting election results wrong, including the Brexit vote earlier this year in the U.K. and other foreign and domestic elections. “If you hold a controversial point of view,” like Brexit or are, perhaps, a Trump supporter, you are less likely to tell a “complete stranger who calls you up at 8:00 at night and asks how you’ll vote” on such a sensitive subject if you share what you know are controversial political views.
“Turnout will be an intriguing factor” on Election Day as well, he warned. As an example, he said “what if it’s a cold, rainy day in Columbus, Ohio, on election day?” which he called “the most important city in the most important state in this election.” While you may have decided to vote for Clinton but don’t have strong positive feelings about her, the weather may lead you not to go out. That could be particularly dangerous for the Democratic candidate if the polls continue to show her holding a substantial lead going into election day, since her supporters might decide they don’t need to vote because she’s a shoo-in.
His conclusion? “I think she’ll win by four, five or six points,” Valliere predicted, “not a blowout.”
Turning to Trump, Valliere said, “talk about missed opportunities!” Trump could have made campaigning hay by exploiting the leaks about Clinton’s emails and other missteps of the former secretary of state, but instead he focused on unimportant issues, Valliere pointed out, such as taking days to discuss a former Miss Universe or to characterize women who charged him with sexual abuse as being too unattractive “for him to abuse them.” Instead, Valliere said, the Trump campaign “imploded.”
If instead of Trump to face Clinton, the Republicans had a ticket of John Kasich and Marco Rubio, “I think she’d be behind” in the polls now. Instead, Valliere said to sparse laughter from the audience, “she got to face the only politician in America she could beat.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is “sure to run for president in 2020,” may well put tax reform on the front burner, with the ending of carried interest the most likely suspect. Valliere believes there will be a lame duck budget resolution this year, followed by an agreement to raise the debt ceiling next year, and he would expect “significant” increased spending on infrastructure early in a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Otherwise, he believes that “government by executive order” will continue, and that Clinton will try to curb the prices of drugs, which would be bad for pharmaceutical stocks. He also expects Clinton to increase defense spending, making defense stocks “not a screaming sell.”
Clinton’s biggest opportunity to enact change will be with the Supreme Court. “Just look at the ages” of the current justices, Valliere said, noting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is “83 and has pancreatic cancer.” The “swing” justice, Anthony Kennedy, is 80. Even Clarence Thomas, age 68, has made noises about retiring early. While Clinton might consider nominating a younger justice rather than President Obama’s choice, Judge Merrill Garland, 63, Valliere said she might still support Garland’s bid, since she’ll have the “opportunity to appoint two to three additional Supreme Court justices.
After the election, Valliere believes that Donald Trump will continue to have some influence, and he even believes it possible that there could be splits within both major political parties. “The Trump people hate Ryan,” he said, so if the Speaker of the House becomes the de facto leader of the GOP, Trump and his supporters could decide to start their own party.
However, he also sees “growing rifts” within the Democratic party. By spring of 2017, he expects there to be “sniping” between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and combined with anger on the left of the party springing from the Wikileaks emails in which Clinton campaign officials disparaged those on the left, there could be a split in the party: those in the Clinton-Joe Biden-labor union, “traditional” Democratic party and those on the left, typified by Bernie Sanders, Warren and the Greens.
Clinton is likely to appoint a moderate Secretary of the Treasury–not Elizabeth Warren–to help calm the financial markets in the aftermath of the November 8 elections, while concluding that a Clinton administration will have a “fairly innocuous” effect on the financial markets.
— Related on ThinkAdvisor