So here we are.
It's down to Hillary and The Donald. The woman painted with the scarlet letter for her perceived affair with Wall Street, and the man who can't be painted with anything because the metaphysical rules of truth and reality seem to bend to his bizarre will.
Where did Wall Street go wrong during this primary? What could it have done differently? What the f@ck is even happening?
"This has been a devastatingly disappointing election cycle for both conventional wisdom in Washington and political expectations on Wall Street," says one DC-based policy expert. "This was a demoralizing primary for Wall Street Republicans in particular as they found, quite unceremoniously, that their money no longer had the same impact on candidates or the process."
Demoralizing indeed. The GOP seemed to forget all about Wall Street during their Wrestlemania-style debates, and the Democratic versions consisted almost entirely of everyone pointing and singing "Hillary and Goldman, sittin' in a tree" forcing Clinton to respond with varied versions of "Am not!"
The only positive that Wall Street donors can take from the primaries is that many of them kept their powder dry, leaving their checkbooks closed while seemingly every candidate criticized the finance industry at every opportunity. At least they didn't spend money to watch former Lehman executive John Kasich pretend that he'd never even heard the name "Dick Fuld" until recently.
However, it could be argued that the plan to hunker down and ignore had some holes in it. Namely it allowed the tenor of the election to burn on unchecked and provided fertile ground for the extremes to control the center.
"The rise of Trump and out-performance of Sanders are a direct result of the American electorate’s frustration with the current state of affairs," says the policy expert. "Tied for #1 on the list of public enemies are Washington and Wall Street."
So will Wall Street roll up its sleeves and start writing checks to insert itself into the general? According to Politico, Hillary and Trump certainly hope so:
The race for Wall Street cash will be intense. Trump said this week that while he would help fund a general election campaign that could cost well over $1 billion for each candidate he will also seek donations.
Per the Politico piece, Hillary is already trying to outflank Trump by targeting longtime mainstream GOP donors who came out for both versions of the Bush family but are likely horrified by whatever kind of Republicanism that Trump is peddling. Trump's camp might be more than vaguely aware that Hillary could - staggeringly - score some major shekels by convincing old Republicans that she's more to their liking, which is probably why they've hired Steve Mnuchin to talk turkey to some of the guys he knows from his days at Goldman and Dune Capital.
But is there really any upside for financiers to donate to Trump now? His revolution has come about almost despite them and his actual attitude towards Wall Street might be as shiftable as the weather. Even loyal GOP donor and Wall Street cheerleader Anthony Scaramucci sounds iffy about handing Trump a check...
“I’m a loyal Republican and I’m going to stay with the Republicans and to the extent I can be helpful to Trump, I will be. But it’s hard to see how the fundraising is going to flesh out for him. They are six months behind,” he said.
But that might be a problem more for Trump than his opponent.
Hillary has a much more obvious argument to pull in Wall Street money. Aside from the fact that she already is taking in money from the finance sector, Wall Street can sell itself on the notion that contributions to Hillary will stunt the Bernie effect on her rhetoric.
Sure, she'll go after "Shadow Banking" but she'll also maybe rein in an increasingly vocal Elizabeth Warren who has been emboldened by Trump's rise to power. In a way, contributions to Hillary can be seen as an imperfect hedge; it won't reduce all risk, but it definitely can't hurt.
Regardless of how much money is pumped into this general election, things are going to turn dystopic in terms of rhetoric being fling from both sides, and Wall Street might just end up waking up six months now from some kind of rage coma, wondering once again where it all went wrong.
Hillary forces target Bush donors [POLITICO]