As they compete among each other to make the best and earliest calls on the presidential election, several Wall Street analysts have committed themselves in recent days to Gov. Bill Clinton as the likely winner.
But they aren't sure whether investors, expressing their collective views through the ups and downs of the stock market, have yet come to the same conclusion."As campaign 1992 enters its final phase, it's time to reassert my belief that Governor Clinton will beat President Bush on Nov. 3," declared Ethan Siegal, political analyst at Prudential Securities.
"My fearless forecast: It won't even be close. I expect Clinton to take 27 states and the District of Columbia, representing 338 electoral votes, far more than the 270 he needs."
"It's beginning to look a lot like Clinton," said Thomas Gallagher, Washington-based analyst at Shear-son Lehman Brothers.
"The volatility of the campaign this year requires some modesty in forecasting, but we would handicap the race as follows: A one-third chance of a close Bush win, a one-third chance of a close Clinton win, and a one-third chance of a decisive Clinton win.
"Talk of a close election obscures the fact that the probabilities are skewed in Clinton's direction."
All this marks a big turnabout, of course, for the Republican-dominated community in the nation's brokerage offices and trading rooms, where Bush's re-election was once regarded as a given.
Among bond traders, in particular, Democrats are often regarded warily as the softer of the two parties on inflation. "After being bullish all year (on bonds)," said Edward Yardeni, chief economist at C.J. Lawrence Inc., "we turned more cautious recently because we think Governor Clinton is likely to be our next president."
Yet neither the stock nor the bond market has gone through a protracted sinking spell of late to suggest that they were unsettled by the prospect of a Clinton victory.
"There seems to be less than resounding enthusiasm for either candidate, perhaps because there is a feeling that the problems are too big for them to solve," observed Byron Wien at Morgan Stan-ley & Co.
Or perhaps, some analysts suggest, the market hasn't yet completed the process of doping out the election, especially since it has been preoccupied of late with other matters such as currency and interest-rate turmoil in Europe.
"To some extent," said Gallagher, "the race has already been a factor in market action. Clinton's lead in the last 40 polls can't have passed without notice."