Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

People wait in line to cast early in-person votes at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on Nov. 1, 2020.


From the beach towns of Pinellas, Florida, to the suburbs of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Wall Street will be closely watching a few dozen counties on Tuesday night for hints on who will win the U.S. presidential race.

Investment firms, faced with the prospect of a chaotic election complicated by an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, have hired political analysts and crunched voting data to try to identify crucial counties and Senate races that might tell them which way the vote is headed.

Pinellas, home to St. Petersburg-Clearwater, has picked the winner of every presidential election since 1980 except for the disputed 2000 vote. Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, is seen as an indicator of suburban enthusiasm for Democratic contender Joe Biden.

Story continues below advertisement

The calculus is by no means definitive or comprehensive. With Democrats more likely than Republicans to vote early, for example, initial results from some counties could show a strong Biden lead that gets tempered or reversed as in-person ballots are counted.

“They are trying to find the signal from the noise. It can seem overwhelming,” said Andy Lewin, who works with financial services clients for Washington lobbyist BGR Group.

He sees Pinellas and another county in Florida, Sumter, as bellwethers for older voters. If Biden outperforms Hillary Clinton – the Democratic candidate in 2016 – in Pinellas, or if President Donald Trump loses his margin of victory from 2016 in Sumter, the Republican is unlikely to be re-elected, he said.

“They are great proxies for investors on where the election is headed,” Lewin said.

A spokesman for the Biden campaign declined to comment for this story. Representatives for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Several investment strategists singled out Florida as critical to Trump’s re-election. The state, with 29 Electoral College votes out of a total of 538, was vital to Trump’s surprise win in 2016.

“The absolute most important thing to watch on election night is what happens in Florida,” Ben Melkman, head of hedge fund firm Light Sky Macro LP, told Reuters during a recent online forum.

Story continues below advertisement

Florida, along with North Carolina, Ohio and Texas – all states that investors are monitoring closely – has already begun to process mail-in ballots. Election experts say these states will likely be able to count the majority of their votes by the end of the night.


Biden is leading Trump in national opinion polls, but the race is tight in several battleground states, which can swing to either party and decide the race.

Noel Dixon, global macro strategist at State Street Global Markets, said he was watching North Carolina’s Bladen and Granville counties as indicators for the African-American turnout. An increase would be a good sign for Biden.

Ed Mills, managing director for Washington policy at Raymond James, views North Carolina’s Mecklenburg, Wake and Durham counties as indicators for suburban voters.

The state also has a close race for the Senate seat held by Republican Thom Tillis. If North Carolina goes for Biden and Senate challenger Cal Cunningham, it would likely be a Democratic sweep, Mills said. But if Trump wins by more than a few percentage points, he would be “thinking of a repeat of 2016.”

Other battlegrounds, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, do not begin processing absentee ballots until Election Day so experts say initial results will likely skew Republican and the full tally could take days to complete. (For more on ballot processes in swing states, see)

Story continues below advertisement

To get an early read on Pennsylvania, investors can look to Ohio, said Libby Cantrill, head of U.S. public policy at the bond fund manager PIMCO. The two states have similar voter demographics and both flipped in 2016 for Trump.

If Trump wins Florida and Arizona, the outcome will rest on Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Alec Phillips, U.S. chief political economist at Goldman Sachs, said on a recent call for clients.

Michigan’s Kent County, where Trump beat Clinton by 3 percentage points, is on the watch list for Jon Lieber, U.S. managing director at Eurasia Group, as is Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, which narrowly went for Clinton.

Garrett Roche, chief market strategist at Uxbridge Capital, a New York-based private investment adviser, said he will be watching Michigan’s Macomb County, where Trump outperformed by 6 points Mitt Romney’s 2012 performance, and where Clinton underperformed former President Barack Obama by 10 points.

In Wisconsin, Roche said he was monitoring Kenosha County, which voted for Obama by double digits before narrowly going to Trump.

Other investors said they were keeping an eye on Maricopa County, the most populous in Arizona. The long-time Republican stronghold has a growing Hispanic population that leans Democratic.

Story continues below advertisement

Whatever the outcome there or in other bellwether counties, it’s clear investors have been searching for an edge, even if the results are far from certain.

It’s “hard to know what to focus on,” BGR’s Lewin said, “so everyone has their own secret sauce.”

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies