Worrying About November 3, 2020

Worrying About November 3, 2020

Sigh.  So the US election is now just four days less than being four months from now, and, really, anything can happen. After all, four days less than four months ago was March 11, just before the US fully recognized that we were in a pandemic, with everything closing, and “the economy falling off a cliff,” as it is now put, but was not obvious on 3/11 at all, even though it was only about two days away.  And the murder of George Floyd was still some time off.  So, the world can turn completely upside down before the election, and nobody should forget that what really matters is what happens in the two weeks before the election, the period of short-term memory, and that really cannot be foreseen.  I mean, those who hate Hillary a lot say it was not a big deal, but most of us realize that if James Comey had not made his big announcement about new nothing investigations of her emails 11 days prior to the election in 2016, she almost certainly would be running for reelection right now.

So, we are in this obviously ironic position: many Dems are hoping things go badly in the next four months while many GOPs are hoping just the opposite just so each gets the electoral outcome they want.  This is nothing new, but it does put forward ironies in an unprecedented situation with many bad things happening and general uncertainty simply super high.  Thus we have the oddity that in Congress it is Dems who are pushing for more and more expansive fiscal stimulus, which would presumably help the economy and thus Trump’s reelection chances, while it is GOPs, especially in the Senate where they are in control, who are being the most negative about such a package, especially because of its aid to states and localities, whom they view as Dem interests.  I see out of the White House that Trump himself understands this and would like to see more fiscal stimulus, if perhaps with some limits and conditions.  But, heck, things are indeed fully topsy-turvy.

So, keeping in mind that anything can happen, and I mean seriously all sorts of currently completely inconceivable things, I am going to worry about how if nothing dramatic happens, we could see gradually improving trends on several fronts that could move the November prez election back from its current state where if it were held today Biden would simply blow out Trump and the Dems would easily take control of the Senate, back more to what was where things were before four months ago, where it looked like a close race in November, both for the White House and the Senate, with Biden’s chances probably better than those of the Dems taking the Senate.

Clearly, the fundamental driving force will be what happens with the pandemic.  Right now it is getting worse, at least in terms of new cases, in the US, although that has declined in the last few days from over 50,000 per day to the mid 40,000s.  I think it is highly likely we shall see another peak on that due to the gatherings for July 4, but if in fact governors react more strongly and start seriously enforcing mask-wearing and all that, we might well see that peak in two weeks as the peak, with a gradual decline going on after that.  Of course, there are numerous chances for it to explode again, with the opening of schools in the fall one such obvious possibility.  But note that most of the rest of the world where they have been serious about mask-wearing and social distancing have gotten their cases way down, with them so far staying down.  If the governors get tough, nothing due to Trump, we might see the hot new hotspots getting under control in a few months, especially four months.

Heck, next door to where I am in Virginia is Pendleton County, West Virginia.  It is currently the most pro-Trump county in the nation, and also one of the five least infected.  My county city-county has nearly 1700 cases, but Pendleton has a mere 12.  But yesterday GOP WVa Gov. Jim Justice just imposed a statewide requirement to wear face masks in public.  Trump may not get it, but if the GOP govs get it, that might be sufficient to get things much more under control than they are now.

If the virus gets under control, well, then the economy can reopen again and start growing again.  I have already posted on how the US economy has done better than forecast by many.  Now most of us are forecasting a slowdown due to the re-emergence of the virus and the new shutdowns.  But while many states are doing new shutdowns, some places are still in their first rounds of reopening.  Heck, here in Virginia, July 1 marked the arrival of Phase 3 of the reopenings, and VA is ahead of DC and Maryland on that. Reopenings, with accompanying heightened GDP growth is still going on.  As it is, I am not forecasting how the economy will do, but it is not at all out of the question that it might be doing not too badly come November, although I am sure unemployment will still be higher than it is now. But on the stock market, heck, the NASDAQ is already at new record highs.

I am not going to speculate about the Black Lives Matter movement, but certainly that could go in a lot of directions, and the political bottom line on it by November could be much different than it looks now.

So, bottom line is nobody should get complacent that Trump will lose, although I find those who predict that he will definitely win to just completely silly.  Everything is uncertain and up in the air.

Barkley Rosser

 

 

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