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!”
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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.