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As election season heats up, you’re going to hear lots of dire predictions about what will happen if President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump is reelected. If history is any guide, the US economy and the stock market may be fine in the long run no matter who’s in office.

Ronald Wilson Reagan
40th US President
In 1980 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth* S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return*
  • Former actor lacks the experience to be president
  • Belligerence toward the Soviet Union could lead to nuclear war
  • Reaganomics is dangerous and won’t work
3.5% 14.2%
George Herbert Walker Bush
41st US President
In 1988 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return
  • Not a strong leader like Reagan
  • Lacks vision (“the vision thing”)
  • Part of the Reagan administration that doubled the national debt
2.2% 15.7%
William Jefferson Clinton
42nd US President
In 1992 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return
  • Governor of a small state—unproven on the national scale
  • Tax increases will sink the US economy
  • Government takeover of healthcare will nationalize 20% of the US economy
3.9% 17.2%
George Walker Bush
43rd US President
In 2000 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return
  • Running for president because of his last name, not his accomplishments
  • Tax cuts will only benefit the wealthy
  • No foreign policy experience—not ready for a crisis
2.2% -2.9%
Barack Hussein Obama
44th US President
In 2008 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return
  • Inexperienced—only served in the US Senate for two years before running for president
  • Soaring rhetoric and exorbitant campaign promises are “just words”
  • Desire for a large stimulus bill and healthcare plan will explode the national debt
1.7% 14.5%
Donald John Trump
45th US President
In 2016 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return
  • Never held political office
  • Doesn’t speak or act in a way that’s presidential
  • Trade war with China will damage the US economy
1.4% 16.0%
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.
46th US President
In 2020 His Critics Said: Average US GDP Growth S&P 500 Index Average Annual Return
  • Too old to be president
  • Career politician
  • More of a vice president than a president
3.7% 10.2%


Don’t fret if your preferred candidate doesn’t get elected in November! The US economy and stock market have generally marched higher through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Dramatic events such as 9/11, the global financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic can cause sharp market selloffs—but our economy and stock market have historically been resilient to these types of shocks. 

Your financial professional can help you stay focused on your long-term goals regardless of who’s in the White House.

* GDP is calculated beginning on January 1 of the year a president is elected; S&P 500 Index returns are calculated beginning on Inauguration Day. For President Biden, GDP is as of 9/30/23 (most recent data available), and S&P 500 Index returns are as of 12/31/23. Data Sources: US Bureau of Economic Analysis and IMF via FactSet, Morningstar, and Hartford Funds, 1/24.

S&P 500 Index is a market capitalization-weighted price index composed of 500 widely held common stocks.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. The index is unmanaged and not available for direct investment. For illustrative purposes only.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

This material is provided for educational purposes only.


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