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'The left really underestimated how important the economy was to people': Analyst

Lee Hartley Carter, Maslansky + Partners President and Partner, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down how the markets are reacting to the current state of the 2020 election.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, it had largely been expected that Republicans would be facing a blue wave, so to speak, this election. And yet, Democrats have not picked up the majority in the Senate and the presidential. In the presidential race right now, things still even. So we're joined now by Lee Hartley Carter, president and partner Maslansky and Partners. Lee, thank you so much for joining us. I'm really glad that you're here, especially as we have this breaking news right now.

As I was just mentioning, there were supposed to be this blue wave, where Democrats were going to be able to pick up a bunch of Senate seats. And we just now heard, in Maine, Sara Gideon, the Democratic challenger there, conceding to the incumbent, Senator Susan Collins, who a lot of folks thought was going to be facing a very tough race. A lot of folks had targeted Susan Collins over the last several months, especially for her record on some SCOTUS nominations, over women's issues. So what are you making of that race there? Was this blue wave really more of a blue mirage?

LEE HARTLEY CARTER: I think it was a little bit because I think people are really mixed. What we don't have right now is a clear mandate. Whatever happens, 45% of Americans are going to be disappointed. There is not a clear answer here. I think a lot of people said this is going to be a referendum on Donald Trump. People are tired of his chaos, of his personality, and that's not necessarily what we've seen.

When you look at some of the polling that happened before Election Day, there were some things that, I think, told us that this might be what was going to happen. Number one, the economy was the number one most important issue to Americans going into this Election Day. Donald Trump performed better.

There was the issue of character that really came into play, and I think that that is why Joe Biden went over the edge, but it's not because of policy. It's because people still wanted the issues that they want on the economy. I think that's why we're seeing a lot of split things happening where you see a Senate seat held by the Republicans when that wouldn't when Joe Biden was the candidate in that state.

So I think there's a lot to be learned here. I think that it's going to take us some time, though, because I think that emotions are running very, very high in this moment. The president's speech, I think, last night at 2:30 in the morning that he gave is only going to heighten our emotions and allow us not to be able to feel what we need to feel and learn what we need to learn. And there's a lot that we need to learn from each other.

I think that people on the left had some really great points and some really valid arguments and that we need to learn from them. I think people on the right wanted the economy to thrive. I think they wanted to find a way to live their lives while COVID was here without shutting down, and I think that was something that we heard as well.

So I think there's a mix of messages that we need to take away, but I think it's going to take some time. Because right now, we're just so focused on what is going to happen with these votes. And you know, we're not going know for a couple of days, it seems, at least that's what they're saying in Pennsylvania, right?

KRISTIN MYERS: Lee, I want to ask you about what candidates themselves and the pollsters have been getting wrong about the American people, something that you've been kind of noting as you've been talking to folks on both sides of the aisle around the country.

LEE HARTLEY CARTER: You know, I think that one of the things that people missed is that 56% of Americans feel better off today-- and this was a poll that came out by Gallup the week before the election-- feel better off today than they did four years ago, despite the fact that there's a global pandemic. So there were pieces of what Donald Trump did that the American people liked. 49% of Americans to 47% preferred Donald Trump's policies to Joe Biden's. But at the end of the day, there's more to the presidency than just the policies. There's more to the presidency than just the economy.

So what did the polls miss? I think what they missed is that there were a lot of undecided voters. When you look at all of the numbers, in every state that matters, there was somewhere between 5% and 7% of undecided voters going into Election Day. We know that a lot of those undecided voters broke towards Donald Trump.

That shouldn't be a big surprise to any of us as we looked at it. And that's something that I was really, really focused on. Because the truth of the matter is, people were asking, how could anyone be undecided at this point? Well, are lots of good reasons because what matters more to you, your pocketbook or character?

A lot of people felt like they were going to make their vote but had to shower afterwards. People didn't feel really good about it. And I think that that's something that a lot of people weren't talking about and just couldn't believe after all this time that there are undecided voters. As much as you know Joe Biden, as much as you know Donald Trump, I think it came down to some of those last-minute decisions. And that's why we got to be so close.

I think people on the left really underestimated how important the economy was to people and how good people felt, despite the-- despite a global pandemic. I think that people on the right really misjudged how hard Donald Trump's character was for people to take and how much damage that's done and how much division that's sown. And I think there's so much defensiveness, and so much healing that needs to happen right now. And I just don't know where that's going to come from. Because right now, it seems like we've got two parties who are really hellbent on digging in their heels in and fighting each other.

KRISTIN MYERS: So speaking about that, you wrote in an op-ed that right now, Americans are feeling fear and that both Joe Biden and Donald Trump needed to convince Americans that they would be the candidate that would protect them. As you were watching this all play out-- and even now after, you know, the ballot boxes have been closed-- do you think that one candidate managed to convince the American public over the other that they would do that job better?

LEE HARTLEY CARTER: No. I think that one candidate over the other convinced a marginal group of people more than the other. I think that whatever happens now, there is going to be a number of people who are afraid, who feel left behind, who feel like they don't belong, who feel judged. And it's really going to be a difficult road ahead.

I think Joe Biden, should he be the next President of the United States-- and I believe that's the path that we're looking at right now-- he has a lot of healing work to do. He says he's going to be the president for all Americans, and I think that he needs to really focus on how is he going to extend that olive branch to people who feel judged, marginalized, and left behind by the policies of the left.

There's been such-- this has been the most negative campaign that I remember ever tracking on both sides. You know, Joe Biden talked about, it's a dark winter. We're fighting for the soul of America. He talked about if Donald Trump were to win again, how dangerous that was for the country. And there were a number of people who had their hope in Donald Trump. And so I think there is just a huge amount that needs to be done.

Likewise, if Donald Trump does follow this very narrow path that he still has-- and it's a very narrow path that he still has to win-- there are a huge number of people who are afraid for their individual safeties, for the institutions of this country, for the election itself. And there's a lot of healing that has to happen there, and I just don't know how up for the job people really are because that is going to be tough. We are as divided as we ever have been and as afraid as we ever have been for a number of very good reasons.