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Election Day Quickies

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Yay! It's almost over!

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Not enough time to pen a proper column, but important enough stuff to write something

• While the drop in oil looks convenient, a rational look at the situation reveals no great number of people are going to vote for the President instead of the Senator because oil topped late last week. If it topped a month ago, maybe.

• I don't see everyone betting on the election. I see half the people betting the election won't be over by Wednesday's open with the other half following what their little black box tells them to do. The third half is sitting on their hands waiting for it to be over.

• Before you listen to the talking heads and plunk down good money on big pharma in anticipation of a win by President Bush, read my lips: Big pharma's goose is cooked regardless of who wins this election. Buy big pharma on a trade? If that's your deal, sure. Just don't let that trade become an investment. That's bad juju always, but particularly bad in this sector.

• My best biotech people told me we'd miss Dr. McClellan's hand on the rudder at the FDA, but his hand on the re-imbursement spigot at Medicare would be a good thing. We probably saw some of that on Monday.

• If President Bush wins, I suspect Dr. McClellan will be the new head of HHS.

• If Senator Kerry wins, Robert Rubin will need to decide whether he wants a second pass at Treasury or whether he wants to wait to be the next Fed-head. I still think ex-NEJM editor Dr. Marcia Angell has a shot at the FDA spot. Others are suggesting Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Eric Topol, but I doubt that very much. Dr. Angell would be a disaster for big pharma, Dr. Topol less so.

• Dear President: "Please nominate an FDA Commissioner sooner rather than later. I can't take any more of the current leadership." Sincerely, Frustrated Biotech Investor

• In October 2003, I said the Democrat's nominee would win the White House because they would beat the GOP in the effort to register new voters. The GOP spent more on this for the 2004 election than at any other time in its history. They were still dwarfed by the Democrat's effort. One Democrat-leaning 527 group spent $120 million to register new voters.

• I learned a very valuable lesson this year when it comes to poll watching. Pay very close attention to the "Likely voter" versus "Registered voter" label on the polls. I made assumptions about the former that simply aren't true. If you want more info on this, read the reprint of a letter the newsletter "The Polling Report" graciously allowed us to use here at the 'Ville.

• Here's some unsolicited economic advice to the winner: Peel back the $80-billion dividend tax cut and spend that money on boosting small businesses instead. Can you imagine the amount of job creation $80B could make if we could figure out a way to direct it to small businesses and new start-ups? I'm aware the double tax on dividends is not fair, but a mounting budget deficit and sluggish recovery mean this tax cut didn't work. It would be nice to be able to return to the days when people would admit when a program wasn't working as planned and try something better.

• Is there anything more inane than media coverage of candidates voting? How is that news?

• If you are a conservative - which I don't see as necessarily equivalent to "Republican" - the idea a liberal Democrat is perceived by the electorate as most likely to balance the budget is a real head-spinner. Whether that perception is reality can be argued convincingly by both sides, but the polls show the perception is broadly held.

• It's clear the most recent try at limiting money funneled to politicians didn't work. While most people believe there need to be limits, most people don't realize limiting someone's right to give money to a political candidate runs hard up against the First Amendment. Ditto with requiring media to carry political ads for free. Am I the only one that sees the utility of a Constitutional Amendment that simultaneously fixes this problem and addresses the Electoral College?

• Here in Washington State, the elections for Governor, Attorney General, and 8th District US Congressional seat (GOP star Jennifer Dunn's former seat) have been the oddest I've ever seen. The Democratic candidate for Governor has been our state's worst Attorney General but is ahead in the polls (yes, she brought in tons of tobacco money but have you read the deal she negotiated?). The Democratic candidate for Attorney General is so self-absorbed she renamed the Insurance Commissioner's office after herself and her employees filed the most whistle-blower complaints in Washington State history. Yet she's polling dead even. The Republican candidate for the 8th District never showed up at any debate or community forum where constituents could compare him to his challenger. Local media can't get an interview. Despite his absentee performance in this election, he's also polling ahead. Why do I mention this? I think it is a perfect example of the heavily partisan nature of this election where people are voting a ticket and not the person. If traditionally independent Washingtonians are like this, I can only imagine what it will be like in areas of the country where partisan politics are more the norm.

• Aside from the daily personal responsibility that is the flip-side of freedom and liberty, I believe the most important action an American citizen can make is to cast an informed vote. There is no shame in leaving a ballot item blank if you aren't certain about the candidates or the issue. Take some time to do that duty today.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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