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Political Odd Couple Carville, Matalin Share Their Election Forecasts

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Republican strategist Mary Matalin, wife of Democratic strategist James Carville Republican strategist Mary Matalin, married to Democratic strategist James Carville.

Welcome back to Human Capital! While the first presidential debate is only days away (Tuesday, to be exact), political watchers and industry officials have been busy poring over – and opining on — the policies President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have put forth.

Case in point: The dynamic, and often dueling, political strategists James Carville and Mary Matalin.

The duo — married for nearly 27 years despite being on opposites sides of the aisle (she’s a Republican, he’s a Democrat) — prognosticated on a virtual event held Wednesday by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association what to expect from the first debate and who’s likely to win the White House.

As for Trump, “I would expect he’d be pretty aggressive” Tuesday night, Carville said. “Trump’s got real work to do … he has to change the underlying dynamic.”

As to Biden, he’s “still not a complete picture to people,” with some maybe questioning: “Is he too old?”

Added Matalin: “It’s nonsense to think that the candidates don’t know what the questions are.”

A quick backgrounder: Carville was the lead strategist during former President Bill Clinton’s campaign, while Matalin served under President Ronald Reagan and was also campaign director for President George H. W. Bush.

Thoughts on battleground states: “If Trump carries Pennsylvania there’s an 84% chance he’s elected president,” Carville said. “If Biden carries Pennsylvania, there’s a 96% chance he’s elected president.” If Trump carries North Carolina, “he simply can’t lose,” he added.

Matalin, who said she didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but will in this election, chimed in: “Trump is going to win Pennsylvania, again, on fracking and energy; James thinks Biden’s going to win it on educated white women in the suburbs.”

If Trump loses Florida and North Carolina, “it’s over” for him, she said.

Will the Supreme Court vacancy drive more voters to the polls?

Carville: “It’s the most caffeinated electorate that anybody’s seen in the history of the United States and I suspect that it will remain caffeinated.”

Matalin: SCOTUS “is always energizing to Republicans. There is an all-time high enthusiasm and support among Republicans for Trump. But on this particular issue, people who understand how the legislative branch has abrogated its authority largely to the courts or to the executive branch, the courts stand as the last trusted institution, so it’s very important.”

How long will we have to wait for election results?

Carville: “We’re going to know on election night whether we’re in for a long battle or there’s going to be a winner.”

Matalin: “Unless Trump wins significantly, which is more likely than Biden winning significantly, … we’re going to have turmoil for some time.”

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