Election Results Point to Mixed Government

| November 09, 2022

The main takeaway from election results currently is likely a mixed government, which we continue to view as market-friendly overall. There’s still some counting to do in some key races, but it remains very likely Republicans will take the House. At a high level, the outcome was probably largely priced in.

Democrats are favored to take the Senate (as of this moment but subject to change), with the outcome dependent on still-undecided elections in Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. Republicans need two of those three seats to take control of the Senate. Georgia, which is headed for a runoff election on December 6, looks like a coin toss.

Assuming Republicans take the House, we believe it would be a market-friendly outcome no matter what happens in the Senate. Markets don’t react well to uncertainly so political gridlock is normally a favorable outcome as new measures from the administration are thwarted by the opposing party. As shown in the chart below, historically a Republican congress under a Democrat President has been the strongest environment for stocks but any split congress (under a President from either party) also sees above average returns.

The biggest implication of Democrats holding the Senate would be on the regulatory front, as it would be easier for Democrats to confirm nominees with a stronger regulatory stance.

A Republican win in the House likely takes any potential tax hikes off the table, including taxes on corporate buybacks, and makes fiscal spending in a possible recession at least more restrained. In addition, the GOP can influence the regulatory agenda with positive implications for financials, energy, and healthcare.

While overall we see a split government as positive for the markets there are some added potential risks. The path to raising the debt ceiling may become more difficult, and markets have usually reacted negatively when it starts to look possible that the U.S. may default on its debt. Additionally a recession may be incrementally deeper, if we have one, due to a likely smaller fiscal response in a split government.

Looking ahead markets have historically done well in the year after midterms in fact, they have been higher 18 out of 18 times in the following year dating back to 1950, with nearly identical historical returns under Democratic and Republican presidents. This is no guarantee that it will happen this time, of course, and the S&P 500 has been higher about 80% of all years over that span, so 18 out of 18 is only somewhat above expectations. Still, there are a few possible fundamental reasons for market strength following midterm elections. Primarily, the uncertainty associated with the election is over but also midterms usually provide something of a course correction from presidential elections. Markets may anticipate prospects of a better policy balance ahead, regardless of who is in the Oval Office.


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For a list of descriptions of the indexes and economic terms referenced in this publication, please visit our website at lplresearch.com/definitions.