Instead of a debate, President Trump and democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will be taking part in competing forums on television in an effort to gain some momentum in the final weeks of the race. Brian Gardner, Chief Washington Policy Strategist at Stifel, joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: President Trump and Joe Biden were supposed to be facing off tonight in Florida for that debate. But instead, the candidates will be taking part in competing forums on TV, hoping to gain some momentum in these final weeks of the race. I want to bring in Brian Gardner now. He's chief Washington policy strategist at Stifel.
Good morning, Brian. I want to start with this new poll we got overnight, an NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll that shows Biden leading Trump 11% right now nationally. That is the same lead Hillary Clinton had four years ago. We know how that worked out. So should we be believing the polls even now?
BRIAN GARDNER: Yeah, I believe the polls to a point. I do think that Vice President Biden is leading, and I don't think there's any question about that. And I think he's outperforming Hillary Clinton compared to four years ago when you compare an average of the polls-- so to take out all the different fluctuations of individual polls. That being said, I do think polls are going to start to tighten in the next couple of weeks. And so while I do think the vice president is the favorite and will probably win, I do think we're going to see a tighter race in the coming weeks.
BRIAN SOZZI: Brian, 19 days until the election. What in fact tightens the race? And then do you have a couple of ways that President Trump could go on to maybe steal the election? Just judging based on where the polls sit now.
BRIAN GARDNER: I don't know that I want to use the word "steal," Brian.
BRIAN SOZZI: [CHUCKLES] Fair enough.
BRIAN GARDNER: Get me in a lot of trouble. What can tighten the polls? One, it's the natural tendency of voters of a particular party to return home. Two, if Republican-- and this is part of number one. If Republican voters see-- think that Biden wins, do they split their tickets and vote for Republican senators? So those polls can tighten in order to create a check.
The Amy Coney Barrett hearings went really well for Republicans and for the nominee herself. So I think that helps Republican voters feel pretty good about Trump, about voting for Trump again. And I also think that the Hunter Biden news that came out yesterday helps as well. And these things are at the margins.
And I'm not-- I don't want to suggest that I believe the story, don't believe the story. That-- to me, that's irrelevant. How social media handled it is going to fuel enthusiasm in the Republican base again to suggest that there's a double standard against Republicans. And I don't think people should underestimate how that drives people to the polls and affects their thinking as they pull the lever and cast their ballots.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Brian, any indication how many undecided voters there are with just 19 days to go before this election? There's still supposed to be one more debate October 22. We have to believe that's going to happen between Trump and Biden. No word yet. But is that going to make a difference as we near Election Day?
BRIAN GARDNER: I do think there is a cohort of voters that can change their mind. It's tough to quantify what they are. For example, I saw a poll from the North Carolina Senate race the other day with Thom Tillis, the Republican incumbent, Cal Cunningham, the Democratic challenger. And it had well into double digits-- 15% or so-- undecided voters. I don't believe that there are that many undecided voters in a particular state in a particular race. I think that's way too high.
Are there 5, 6, 7 percentage points of the electorate still undecided? Probably. And so at the margins, that can make a difference. It can certainly decide how close the race is and tilt it one way or the other. So I do think undecided voters can still make a difference in the race. I do question how big of a cohort of voters that is.
BRIAN SOZZI: Well, let's say President Trump does pull a rabbit out of a hat here and does win re-election. What should investors expect in a second term from President Trump? I listened to-- been listening to his rallies recently and I'm not hearing any clear-cut policy proposals for a second term.
BRIAN GARDNER: No, Brian, I really don't think there is a clear agenda for a Trump 2.0 administration. And I do think that's a problem for them as they campaign going forward. I think there's-- will continue to be a focus on trade. So relations with China will continue to be tough and probably deteriorate a little bit more. I think we're going to continue to see heightened trade tensions with the EU.
You've seen some of the headlines this morning regarding social media and how the Europeans want to regulate social media companies. That will play in. Obviously there are tensions here as well on how social media should be regulated. But EU tensions will continue to be heightened.
So I think on the trade front, you're going to see more of the same, maybe even heightened a little bit. On the domestic side, there will be another push for an infrastructure plan. But, you know, we've seen for a long time that big infrastructure is just very difficult to get through Congress. Maybe some tweaking of the tax code, looking at capital gains cuts again. But you know, again--