Stefanie Miller, FiscalNote Markets Managing Director, joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss Amy Coney Barrett joining the Supreme Court, concerns around early election voting, which battleground states President Donald Trump and Joe Biden should be traveling to and much more.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: We are just one week away from Election Day, and the president and Republicans have gotten one of their biggest items off their to-do list. Last night the Senate approved Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. That could have profound implications for everything from health care to vote counting. Let's talk about it now with Stefanie Miller, managing director at FiscalNote Markets. Good morning, Stefanie. Good to have you on the show again.
STEFANIE MILLER: Thanks for having me.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So does Justice Barrett's confirmation especially-- essentially, rather-- spell the end of the Affordable Care Act because we know that that case is now before the Supreme Court?
STEFANIE MILLER: Yeah, I mean that obviously is what a lot of progressives and Democrats are very worried about. It's really hard to know. She was very, very careful about how she spoke about any actual policy topics when-- during her confirmation, and so, you know, she wouldn't answer anything directly to senators. Based on her prior rulings, however, she's tended to lean more towards the conservative view of kind of peeling back, or in this case with the full law, before her. There is not an unreasonable bet to be placed on her rule-- being a decider in ruling against the ACA.
BRIAN SOZZI: Stefanie, I think the mood amongst Democrats, at least from what I've seen, is the message, "they will get their revenge." They will not forget how the Republicans handled this nomination. How might they get back at Republicans next year?
STEFANIE MILLER: Yeah, so it's funny. I got a text from someone last night who said, you know, today is the turning point in terms of Democrats finally, like, fighting back against Republicans, and I wouldn't have viewed yesterday as the turning point because I think it was pretty understood that Amy Coney Barrett was going to be confirmed. To me, it was really when Justice Ginsburg died and those few days after when Democrats who had fought and fought during the Obama years to get judges before the Senate and Republicans had blocked all of them. We're now seeing Republicans sort of steamroll Coney Barrett through.
And in those early days, they vowed to do three things. They, one, said they wanted to get rid of the legislative filibuster. So that means that any policy moving through the Senate only would need 51 votes, or even 50 votes with the vice president being able to cast a tie, down from the 60 now. So it would make policy much easier to pass with this very slim majority in the Senate.
Two, they said they wanted to add statehood for DC, where I am, and for Puerto Rico, and those districts, certainly DC, would tend to vote more Democrat. And three, they said they wanted to pack the court. And this is what we were hearing more about yesterday-- that now that the Senate has decided, Republicans have decided to get Coney Barrett through, Democrats are going to really think seriously about adding a couple more seats to the Supreme Court.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, Stefanie, I want to get to what Trump and Biden are doing this week. They've spent a lot of time and a lot of focus on Pennsylvania, and I know Melania Trump is going to be in the state today. It's an important state for them, a swing state traditionally. Should they be spending that much time in Pennsylvania, do you think?
STEFANIE MILLER: Yes. I think Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. These are the states I'm watching because none of those states can start casting-- counting ballots that have already been cast until November 3. So there's going to be a huge amount of work for the folks trying to tally and verify signatures and the whole thing beginning on November 3rd, which will give both campaigns an opportunity to really fight it out in the courts when they are thinking things are leaning ways that they don't like.
And so, you know, I think trying to get as much of a lead as possible in any of these states for either party would be very beneficial. And I-- you know, at this point in the 2016 cycle in all three of those states I mentioned, Clinton was far ahead in all of the polls, and she lost all three of them. And so for Biden to think, like, well I have a, you know, I've shown a consistent lead in any of these states, which he has, it should not be enough. They should be scared, and they should be investing a bunch of money to win.
BRIAN SOZZI: The lack of-- the lack of stimulus. Clearly there is not-- there's not going to be any stimulus before Election Day, just the reality. Who does that hurt more on Election Day, Republicans or Democrats?
STEFANIE MILLER: So, to me it hurts all incumbents, and so the question then is who-- which party has more incumbents at risk, and the answer to that is Republicans. And so, you know, everyone in Washington, shame on them for dragging the American people through this. And so the American people now have a way to exercise their anger.
It's just someone like Nancy Pelosi-- she's not really up. That district is going to go to a Democrat. So, you know, if you wanted to be really mad at her, the chance to do that was in the primary, not right now in her district. And so it could have more impacts on Democrats in two years, to be honest, than this year.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Do you think the markets are pricing in a Biden win, and are they setting themselves up for surprise results come November 3rd or maybe a few days after?
STEFANIE MILLER: Yeah. So I think they're clearly pricing in a Biden win and the idea that Democrats could come in and pass a much bigger stimulus package much easier. I think that's all very reasonable and that makes-- that makes sense to me. The way the polling is trending really does show Biden with an edge. And there is a lot of reasons why to extrapolate things from 2016, and there's a lot of reasons why this time around there are differences so that Biden's lead is a little more solid.
However, the thing I think the market is missing the most is how long it might take to have an answer. I do think the Trump administration is very, very worried, and the campaign is very, very concerned with how fraudulent they feel voting is right now with all these absentee and mail-in ballots. And so they are going to pursue trying to limit the number of those ballots that are counted, which could delay getting a result and actually change the final result.
BRIAN SOZZI: Will that contested election, or the potential for one-- would that serve as a market shock?
STEFANIE MILLER: I think so. I do not get a sense that the market is pricing in uncertainty. I think they're pricing in certainty in one form or another, and they've become comfortable with either scenario of who's in the White House. But what I do not see is a prolonged period of volatility after the election that anyone seems to be talking about, yet to me, that's the most obvious case that the current political and policy environment argues for.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. Stefanie Miller, managing director at FiscalNote Markets, thanks for being with us.
STEFANIE MILLER: Thank you.