It’s the Election, Stupid — Focusing on the US Presidential Election
No one in their wildest dreams could’ve imagined that 2020 would turn out like this.
Every single person on the planet has been affected — in some direct or indirect way — by COVID-19. But the pandemic itself isn’t the only destructive force we’ve had to deal with. Economic devastation and social unrest are also in the mix, only adding to the heartbreak and uncertainty.
And in the midst of all that, the US still has an election to think about. Over a series of articles in The Daily Reckoning Australia, starting today, Jim Rickards will offer his expert analysis on the polls, the candidates, and more.
Before I run off, both Jim and I are taking part in livestream conferences this week.
If you’re keen to hear my thoughts on the future of gold exploration in Australia, click here to join me for the ‘virtual’ Gold and Alternative Investments Conference, which kicks off on Wednesday.
And Jim will be speaking with our friends over at the DG Institute this Saturday. Click here to register now.
Read on for more.
REVEALED: The Pandemic Market Crash Is Far from Over. Find out more.
It’s Still an Election Year!
When I sat down last December to outline my editorial goals for 2020, it seemed like the easiest task in the world. Of course, the research and writing would be difficult, but the selection of topics was obvious. To paraphrase James Carville, ‘It’s the election, stupid.’ Ultimately, I would focus on the number one topic of the year — the US presidential election.
Or so I thought.
By late January, my plan was in pieces. Three huge stories came in rapid succession. First came the pandemic. Practically the entire global economy was shut down in stages to fight it; something that had never happened in the history of the world.
As if that wasn’t enough, on 25 May we saw the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. This triggered legitimate mass peaceful protests against police violence and racial injustice. It also touched off a wave of violent riots in over 750 locations around the world. In the US, these riots came just as many businesses were struggling to reopen after the 100-day lockdown that began in mid-March.
The riots were the last straw for many cash-strapped small businesses. Owners shut the doors of their burned-out properties and walked away from the wreckage. Those businesses and related jobs will not benefit from ‘pent-up demand’. They are gone forever.
After this triple whammy of pandemic, depression, and social disorder, no one cared about the election. It wasn’t the top story. It wasn’t even in the top five. Everyday people cared about their health, their jobs, their investment portfolios, and their personal safety. Elections could wait.
If people focused on political leaders at all, it was only to see how they were doing in terms of handling the pandemic and responding to the economic crash, not to hear about election platforms or coming debates. No one cared.
A strategic pivot
I pivoted in my coverage immediately. For the past six months, I’ve provided original and cutting-edge analyses of both the pandemic and the depression. I explained why the lockdown would last longer than expected (it’s still going on today), and why any reopening would not result in a surge or the so-called V-shaped recovery.
The pandemic, depression, and social unrest are not going away soon. I’ll have more to say on all of these topics in the months ahead and well into 2021.
It’s still an election year!
The presidential election is only 78 days away (at time of writing). After months of not caring, Americans are quietly starting to care and to focus on their choices. So, the time has come to return to the editorial plan I outlined last December, but never quite got to pursue.
In a series of articles over this week and next, I’ll focus on the presidential election, but with due regard for the contemporaneous stories related to COVID-19 and a damaged economy. Of course, these stories are all related. The persistence of the pandemic will affect the economy, and economic performance will affect the election results. I will provide you with my best analyses to untangle this interconnected web of cause and effect through Election Day and beyond.
A good place to begin is with recent results of one of the most important questions pollsters ask the public. When it comes to the direction of the country, are we going in the right direction or are we on the wrong track? Recent poll results are shown here:
Almost a quarter (23.6%) thought the country is moving in the right direction and 68.4% said the country is on the wrong track. That’s a dismal result (a huge 44.8-point spread) and would seem to damage Trump’s re-election chance. But it’s not unprecedented and is not a particularly good predictor of election results.
The gap was significantly wider in late 2012 (a more than 50-point spread), yet Obama cruised to a comfortable victory over Mitt Romney. The gap was also much wider in late 2013 (close to a 60-point spread), but quickly narrowed. Conversely, the gap was narrow in late 2017 (just over 10 points), but Republicans suffered major setbacks in the 2018 mid-term elections.
This Right Direction/Wrong Track poll is a valuable snapshot, but it is volatile. What it really tells Trump is that he has work to do to change the perception, with not much time to do it before the election. Voters will judge a president more on his efforts at improvement than on the absolute state of affairs.
In my next edition of The Daily Reckoning Australia, I’ll consider the case for Joe Biden. Then I’ll move on to the case for Donald Trump before offering some technical analysis of polling results.
All the best,
Strategist, The Daily Reckoning Australia
PS: Free report reveals why Australia is set to become the next ‘gold epicentre’ — which could result in a HUGE spike in Aussie gold stock prices. Click here to learn more.