One of the top questions we’ve received recently has been what a blue wave may mean for investments. After the Democrats won the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, they will now control the White House and both chambers of Congress. Our January 11 Market Policy Projections for 2021 gave some of the immediate and longer-term policy impacts of the Democratic “blue wave,” and here we surf the blue wave with some interesting charts.
First off, blue waves have not been bearish for stocks, with the S&P 500 Index higher 6 of the past 7 times and up a respectable 9.1% on average since 1950.
We shared this chart in 2020, and it shows that historically, stocks do better if an incumbent president wins versus a new president in office. This makes sense, as a new president will bring in new policies and likely question marks—while you know what you will get with a re-elected president. Remember, markets hate uncertainty and surprises.
“Make it all nine new Democratic presidents since 1900 to bring with them both the House and the Senate. In fact, stocks do quite well that first year under such circumstances, up nearly 12% on average,” explained LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Maybe investors shouldn’t fear a blue wave after all.”
As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, when a new Democratic president has brought with them the House and Senate, stocks gained that first year of their new presidency 6 of 8 times. What stands out to us for 2021, though, is the House majority is only 11—the smallest for a new Democratic president since 1900.
Looking at all of the times the Democrats controlled the House (since the 35th Congress when it was Democrats and Republicans), the 11-seat majority is the lowest since 9 seats in 1879. Yes, the Democrats are in power, but this small majority will make it very tough for any of the more extreme policies to pass.
Lastly, the Senate is split a perfect 50/50, which is again extremely rare. In the chart below we share the seat difference between the two parties. “A 50/50 Senate coupled with only an 11-seat majority in the House, and it is safe to say we have about as close to a perfectly divided government as we’ve ever seen,” said Detrick.
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