This conversation about the 2020 election is an excerpt from Barron’s recent Roundtable, published on Jan. 10. To read the entire discussion, click here.
Let’s talk about the election. Abby, you made a pretty good case for Michael Bloomberg as a candidate last year, although you doubted his electability. Now that he’s actually in the race, what are your thoughts?
Abby Joseph Cohen: I’m not a political analyst. But the two candidates I like from a policy perspective and who could have appeal in the middle—that’s where the game is played—would be Mike Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar. The game is also played in terms of a very small number of states. As a voter in the state of New York, my vote doesn’t matter as much. Perhaps I should move.
Mario Gabelli: Don’t go to Florida; the New York Republicans need that vote.
Cohen: Current surveys suggest that the House will remain in Democratic control, and the Senate in the hands of the Republicans. It is pretty much a toss-up in terms of a Democrat versus Republican win in the White House. Trump remains very popular among Republican voters, but many independents have now moved away, and it is not clear where they will go until we have a Democratic nominee. The other thing that throws this up in the air is the impeachment; we are hearing that there may be other impeachment counts waiting in the wings, such as the president’s use of war powers. That could further muddy these waters.
Do the rest of you agree? Who do you think will—or should—be on the Democratic ticket, who wins the election, and which party takes the Senate? Bill, you’re up.
William Priest: The most formidable Democratic ticket would be Joe Biden, with Klobuchar for vice president. They probably lose to Trump because of the electoral college effect.
Scott Black: It would take a moderate like Biden. I like Amy, but I don’t think she is a realistic nominee. Otherwise, unfortunately, Trump gets re-elected. Among the states that are in play are Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada; those are the battleground states. As Abby alluded to, there has been a big shift, and the people who might have voted for Trump last time are moving in the other direction. But I’m afraid Trump wins.
Meryl Witmer: It’s interesting you say that, because I hear many people say, “Oh, I didn’t vote for Trump last time, but I will this time.” But I live in a red state.
Henry Ellenbogen: Warren’s numbers started to fall precipitously when she put some definition around universal health care—people realized it was a tax that they weren’t willing to pay. The markets will become nervous if the nominee is either Warren or Sanders. Warren would be worse than Sanders [for the markets].
Why? Because she could actually get things done?
Ellenbogen: She actually taught me in law school. Yes, she would be a more effective executive, whereas Sanders would be viewed as someone who would be largely ineffective as president. I’m not predicting that either of them will be the nominee. The nominee is likely to be Biden or perhaps Bloomberg, if his strategy of skipping early primaries works.
Witmer: If Biden drops out, Bloomberg has a shot.
Ellenbogen: Right, or some would say Bloomberg has shifted the conversation and may actually be helping Biden. Either scenario is positive.
Can either one beat Trump?
Ellenbogen: Trump wins if the panel is correct about the U.S. economy—unemployment is low, wage growth is high. The other thing I find is that the U.S. tends to be politically aligned with the trends in the United Kingdom. We saw Boris Johnson win in a landslide. Trump is not going to win in a landslide because of his personality issues; he doesn’t represent a lot of U.S. values to the electorate. If a Democrat wins. and the Democrats take the Senate, that would basically reverse a lot of the policies that have been viewed as pro-market over the past four years.
Read the entire Barron’s 2020 Roundtable here.
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