Death at the Polls

Don't let your portfolio be an election casualty

Written by Jimmy Mengel
Posted October 29, 2020

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

In Baltimore, October 3rd, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found in a gutter.

He was dressed in the ill-fitting clothes of a stranger, stinking drunk, and barely holding on to life. He died just a few days later.

Considering the famed author's thirst for drink and drugs, it wasn't altogether an unexpected demise.

However, it was where he was found that aroused suspicions about what really happened on that day. You see, Poe was discovered outside of Gunner’s Hall, which happened to be a polling place that day for the Baltimore election. The fact that he was wearing clothes that weren't his and the sheer level of intoxication leads many scholars to believe that the Master of the Macabre was actually the victim of voter fraud.

In the late 1800s, there was a practice called “cooping”. Political thugs would troll the streets looking for vulnerable misfits who would do anything for a sip of the demon drink. In exchange for a dribble off the tipple, the mark would be outfitted in new clothes and pushed into the polling place to cast a vote for their candidate.

Cooping was prevalent enough in the late 1800s that Maryland made a law against it. In 1811, my home state passed the nation’s first campaign finance law, which prohibited politicians from providing booze to prospective voters.

On the day Poe was found, he had been given so many drinks that he may have voted at least a half dozen times all around the city. If the myth is true, it could be said that voting may have killed him.

This year, voting could be just as deadly — not just because of the coronavirus risk, but because depending on who wins the election, your portfolio could be in danger...

In a year like 2020, I'm not sure what is scarier: day-to-day life, the ghouls and ghosts of Halloween, or the Presidential election itself.

Depending on your political leanings, we're either looking at Trumpenstein or Zombie Joe.

I don't trust either of these monsters. Never have, never will.

As a third-party voter, I'm usually content to sit on the sidelines with my bag of Halloween candy and try to make the most of a horror show situation. That means I usually start moving my portfolio around based on the best bets.

In this case, I'm going with the Vegas odds that have 66% of the money flowing to Biden, and am going to outline what a Democrat administration would mean for our stocks going forward. Again, I'm agnostic, so don't take this as an endorsement of anything but protecting and growing your money.

Let's start with a Democratic staple: the massive infrastructure project.

Do you want to hear something really scary?

  • More than 25% of bridges in the United States need significant repairs or are handling more traffic than they were designed to carry. That's 150,000 bridges that are "dangerously" in need of repair.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that poor road conditions play a role in more than 14,300 traffic fatalities each year. That works out to one-third of all highway deaths.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers has deemed over 4,095 dams in America to be “unsafe”. Over a third of all dam failures since 1874 have occurred in the last decade alone.

I think we can all agree that collapsing bridges, flooding dams, and hideous car wrecks are all nightmare situations.

That makes infrastructure an easy one, as even the most anti-tax voter can concede that government spending is rather necessary to keep our federal highways, bridges, and water systems in working order. It creates millions of jobs, pumps billions into the economy, and hands untold fortunes to American companies that can supply the materials needed.

These projects usually span several states and it is crucial to have federal projects that are able to make them actually happen.

Trump has been touting big infrastructure projects ever since he started campaigning the first time, and we've seen basically nothing done since he was elected. Biden would make it one of his first initiatives.

There's an easy way to play this: the iShares Global Infrastructure ETF (NYSE: IGF)

This ETF provides exposure to companies that provide various infrastructure services, including transportation, communication, water, and electricity. It has a dividend yield of 3%, an expense ratio of 0.46%, and over $3.2 billion in assets.

Another easy play on a Biden presidency is renewable energy...

Biden strongly — and perhaps foolishly, if you ask voters in states like Texas and Pennsylvania — predicted the death of oil and a pivot towards renewable energy.

Biden’s proposal calls for $1.7 trillion in federal investment over the next 10 years, and counting on additional private sector and state and local investments to total more than $5 trillion.

Of course, this all sounds wonderful. But being a politician, this is mostly lip service. We're not going to get rid of fossil fuels anytime soon. However, a Biden administration would certainly shift its resources towards renewable energy far more than a Trump one.

This will be a boon for renewables like wind and solar, but also electric vehicles. Tesla should do quite well, but I have a much better play for this, which you can find here.

But if there is one thing I'm counting on in a blue government, it's a whole lot of green. I'm talking about cannabis — and all the cash that goes with it...

As you know, I've been covering the cannabis industry since day one and have seen how lucrative it's been. I've also seen how easy it is for  government opposition to pour cold water on a smoking hot market.

That bucket of cold water would be taken away in a Decmocratic adminstration.

The United States is already on the verge of mass legalization. As states look down the barrel of budget shortcuts and record unemployment, we'll see more of them legalize cannabis. Vermont just became the latest state to do so. The Feds will be the next one, building on political actions like the MORE Act, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (“SAFE Banking Act”), and the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton-Lee amendment.

A Democrat-controlled Congress would make it a reality almost overnight.

We'd be looking at a watershed moment for the cannabis space. Advocates are already positioning themselves for a “post-prohibition” world heading into 2021. Descheduling cannabis on a federal level would be a “rock that kills three birds,” according to Steven Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.

That would set up a windfall for U.S. multi-state operators (MSOs) like my latest cannabis position.

If you're going with the Vegas odds that favor Biden, infrastructure, green energy, and cannabis are the way to go. But as we saw the last time around, the pollsters can always be wrong.

That's why tomorrow, my colleague Jason Simpkins will bring you the best Trump stocks to buy.

All that being said, I urge you to show up with your vote and your wallet. Don't go the Poe route and just let people feed you intoxicating poison. Take your time to decide what you really believe. 

Lest you find yourself alone, dying in a gutter...

Happy Halloween....Whahahahaha!


Jimmy Mengel

follow basic @mengeled on Twitter

Jimmy is a managing editor for Outsider Club and the investment director of several personal finance advisories, The Crow's Nest, and The Adventure Capitalist For more on Jimmy, check out his editor's page.

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