Regardless of who gains the next four-year lease on the White House, Trump has already won the policy debate, asserts Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments. Trump remains an underdog to gain the needed 270 votes in the Electoral College, but in a sense he has triumphed “because, on issue after issue, the political center has moved toward him,” Valliere writes.
On the budget, fiscal restraint will loosen regardless of who wins, although the “ticking time bomb of surging entitlement spending” won’t be touched. The whole country feels overtaxed, so calls for cuts and reform will resonate. While Clinton touts tax credits, Trump sees the “big picture” that the tax code retards growth, on which the public agrees.
On trade, Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) convinced voters that trade deals such as Nafta hurt them, so antipathy to free trade is now pervasive. “Emotion, not facts, dominate the trade debate, and Trump gets it,” writes Valliere. Immigration, he contends, could cost Trump the election, given that 80% of Hispanics vote for Clinton; but the focus has shifted to controlling the borders from immigration reform, even if a wall doesn’t get built.
As for geopolitics, Trump’s “stunning” call last week for the U.S. to reevaluate its commitment to NATO horrified the foreign-policy establishment, but it is in tune with a war-weary American populace. And on terrorism, Clinton issues nuanced statements while Trump calls for retribution—“another issue where he’s in sync with the voters,” Valliere continues. The distressing regularity of violent incidents, with the shootings in Munich on Friday being just the latest, will probably reinforce that view.