WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) – Faced with what may be a protracted vote count to determine the next U.S. president, Wall Street investors said they will be closely monitoring election results in certain counties to get an early indication of where the vote is headed.
Here is a watch list Reuters compiled after interviews with more than a dozen investors and the political analysts who advise them. They include the most pivotal counties in the most pivotal states, as well as districts that could shed light on certain demographics or national trends.
The list is not definitive — there are certainly other races that investors are watching, and it remains to be seen which of the counties prove to be prophetic.
MARICOPA COUNTY: The most populous county in the battleground state, and one Republican President Donald Trump won by roughly 3 points in 2016. Multiple investors singled out Maricopa as one to watch. The county had 1.25 million ballots returned by Oct. 26.
BROWARD COUNTY: A strongly Democratic county in southeastern Florida, investors said Broward could indicate how much enthusiasm there is for Democratic contender Joe Biden from younger and Latino voters.
DUVAL COUNTY: Home to the city of Jacksonville, Trump captured Duval in the 2016 election by just 6,000 votes out of over 400,000 cast.
JEFFERSON COUNTY: Just east of Tallahassee, the smaller northern Florida county narrowly favored former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but flipped to Trump in 2016. It is seen by investors as a potential “pivot” county again.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: The Miami-area behemoth, the county is Florida’s most populous. Solidly Democrat in the last three elections, investors see it as a bellwether for pro-Biden turnout.
MONROE COUNTY: Another of Florida’s pivot counties, the Florida Keys voted for Obama twice but switched to Trump in 2016.
PINELLAS COUNTY: The county, which includes St. Petersburg on Florida’s central west coast, narrowly flipped to Trump in 2016 after favoring Obama in 2008 and 2012. Investors said the county’s older population could be an indicator for support for Trump among senior citizens.
SEMINOLE COUNTY: Trump won Seminole by about 1.5 points in 2016, narrower than the 6.5 point margin that Republican candidate Mitt Romney had over Obama in 2012.
SUMTER COUNTY: The central Florida county west of Orlando includes The Villages, a massive retirement community recently in the news for its pro- and anti-Trump political rallies. Republicans have won the last three presidential elections there, so investors are looking at Trump’s margin this time as a sign of support from older voters.
KENT COUNTY: Once seen as a Republican stronghold, this county is one where Democrats are hoping to post significant gains among suburban voters, according to political experts. Trump won in Kent with a 3 point margin, down from Romney’s 7.7 point margin.
MACOMB COUNTY: The county backed Obama twice before giving Trump a double-digit victory in 2016. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton underperformed Obama by more than 9 points, and investors will be watching to see if Biden can do better.
MONROE COUNTY: The type of blue-collar county that helped Trump win Michigan in 2016, Monroe County has struggled to realize the kind of job gains he promised as a candidate. Jobs in Munroe have dropped nearly 3% since Trump took office.
BLADEN COUNTY: The small southeastern North Carolina county is about one-third African-American. Bladen could be indicative of the state’s broader Black turnout, which would likely favor Biden and Cal Cunningham, the Democratic nominee in a tight Senate race with national implications. Trump flipped the county in 2016 after it went for Obama twice.
DURHAM COUNTY: The heavily Democratic Durham area is an indicator of suburban enthusiasm for Biden and Democrats, statewide and nationally, investors say.
GRANVILLE COUNTY: The small north-central county is nearly one-third African-American. Like Bladen, it could be indicative of the state’s broader Black turnout. Trump won the county in 2016 after it went blue in 2008 and 2012.
MECKLENBURG COUNTY: The large Charlotte-area county is solidly Blue and turnout there could be an indicator of Democratic voter enthusiasm.
TRUMBULL COUNTY: Obama won Trumbull County by 23 points in 2012. Trump won it by over 6 points in 2016 on the back of a vow to bring back manufacturing jobs. The county has seen jobs shrink by 7.4% under Trump.
WOOD COUNTY: Another Ohio county that flipped from Obama to Trump, Wood is home to many Toledo suburbs where Democrats hope to gain a foothold with voters. Trump won the county by 8 points in 2016.
BUCKS COUNTY: Democrats have won this county, just north of Philadelphia, in the last three presidential elections, but by increasingly narrow margins. Bucks could be an indicator of national suburban enthusiasm for Biden.
ERIE COUNTY: The northwestern county on Lake Erie flipped to Trump in 2016 after two Obama victories. It’s another pivot county that investors will be watching.
LUZERNE COUNTY: The eastern county, just southwest of Biden’s hometown of Scranton, flipped hard to Trump in 2016 –giving him a nearly 20 percentage point margin over Hillary Clinton — after voting for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Like other pivot counties, it could be a national indicator in a key state.
NORTHAMPTON COUNTY: Frequently flagged as a bellwether county, Trump claimed Northampton in 2016 after Obama won there in 2012. The county has enjoyed stronger job growth under Trump than the rest of the country, with jobs increasing 6.4% during his term.
HARRIS COUNTY: Houston’s Harris County has been flagged as one to watch on Election Night, in part to glean how many suburban voters may be turning away from Republicans. It also is the state’s most populous county.
TARRANT COUNTY: Like Harris, Tarrant is seen as another indicator of suburban gains by Democrats. Trump won Tarrant by 8.6 points in 2016, after a 15.7 point win there by Romney.
KENOSHA COUNTY: Obama won this county by double digits in 2012, but Trump eked out a 0.3 point victory here in 2016.
Sources: Dave Leip’s Election Atlas, Edison Research, Reuters reporting
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder and Lawrence Delevingne, editing by Tiffany Wu)