Shareholders are more likely to vote than non-shareholders; so it is possible that almost two-thirds of the voters this time will be shareholders, compared with just over a third in 1996. This doubling of numbers could be one of the biggest social, as well as electoral, changes in America.
Yet you would hardly know it from the campaign. As they enter the final stages, the Bush and Gore teams are busily tailoring their attack ads to ever-narrower groupsCatholic men in Pennsylvania suburbs, or married women with some college education, two children and full-time jobs, and so forth. Yet the campaigns have not targeted shareholders in this explicit way, even though they are by far the most numerous voting group in the country.
More than that, there has been no correlation between changes in the Dow or Nasdaq and voters preferences. There has not even been a link between the Dow and voters attitudes to the economy (which have generally remained positive while the market slides). On the face of it, then, this does not appear to be a stockmarket election in any meaningful sense.
Possible explanations for this phenomenon range from the obvious (neither side wants to risk a market crash by blurting out something stupid) to the ridiculous (George W. Bush does not want to talk about the market because his chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, took all his money out of stocks). Conventional wisdom, though, argues that the main reason shareholders are not playing a serious political role is that the investor class (to use the term popularised by Larry Kudlow, a Wall Street economist) has not gained class-consciousness.