Phil Orlando: I'm Phil Orlando, Chief Equity Strategist, and this is a Washington on Wall Street Update from Federated Hermes. After suffering through the worst debate in history, last night's second and final presidential debate was one of the best. Moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News did an excellent job of keeping order, and threatening to mute the microphone of the non-speaking candidate was a good idea.
We enjoyed a much more substantive policy discussion between the two candidates. President Trump did a much better job last night. He confirmed that we may have at least one vaccine for coronavirus approved by the FDA before the end of the year. Trump said that his healthcare plan will protect pre-existing conditions and 180 million private insurance plans. And under his leadership, America today has become energy independent.
Vice-President Biden for his part said that he will add a public option to the Affordable Care Act, which could hurt private insurance. He supports doubling the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour immediately, but that could increase inflation, reduce profit margins and earnings, and increase unemployment. Biden plans to shut down the oil industry as he shifts to renewables, and he would assemble a commission to study whether to expand the Supreme Court from nine justices to perhaps 11 or 13 for the first time in 150 years. But with 47 million votes already cast, which is nearly one third of the 150 to 160 million total votes that we expect, the question is whether last night's more substantive policy debate will actually make a difference at the polls.
An estimated 56% of Americans say that they are better off today than they were four years ago. As a result, we do expect the polls to tighten over the next 11 days. Biden has a big lead at present, but with an estimated 70 to 80 million mail-in ballots accounting for perhaps half of the total votes cast, we may not know the winner on election night. We believe that ultimately it will be a very close election, decided in the Electoral College. So please, make your voice heard and vote.
Disclosure: Views are as of October 23, 2020 and are subject to change based on market conditions and other factors. These views should not be construed as a recommendation for any specific security or sector. Federated Advisory Services Company 20-30507 (10/20)