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How do changes in political power impact long-term investment returns?

While elections can be a source of uncertainty or anxiety, they aren’t terribly meaningful to long-term market performance, regardless of the party in power.

Growth of a hypothetical $1,000 investment in the S&P 500 indexIn 2020, Democrats claimed a majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, giving the party control of the White House and both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2009. The upcoming election opens the potential for this to change, with all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 Senate seats up for grabs this year. With less than one month until election day, Republicans remain favored to assume a majority in the House, with control of the Senate still looking like a toss-up.

Political uncertainty can be a source of short-term volatility for equity markets, but it’s important for investors to keep a long-term perspective. As shown above, the stock market has seen strong returns over time, under both unified and divided governments. If untouched, a $1,000 investment in the S&P 500 index in 1936 would have been worth roughly $5 million today. Moving to the sidelines in response to political winds of change in Washington, D.C. would have significantly limited that growth potential. Staying invested over time paid off, regardless of which party was in power or whether control of the executive and legislative branches was split.

Of course, swings in the political climate and meaningful policy changes can affect the capital markets at times. Still, history tells us that their impact on long-term performance tends to be relatively insignificant.

The bottom line? Elections may be a source of anxiety for voters, but history suggests the best course of action for investors is to tune out the noise. Remaining invested through political uncertainty and sticking to a long-term investment plan regardless of the balance of power in Washington has been a winning strategy over the long term.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments include risk and have the potential for loss as well as gain.

Data sources for peer group comparisons, returns, and standard statistical data are provided by the sources referenced and are based on data obtained from recognized statistical services or other sources believed to be reliable. However, some or all of the information has not been verified prior to the analysis, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Any analysis nonfactual in nature constitutes only current opinions, which are subject to change. Benchmarks or indices are included for information purposes only to reflect the current market environment; no index is a directly tradable investment. There may be instances when consultant opinions regarding any fundamental or quantitative analysis may not agree.

Plante Moran Financial Advisors (PMFA) publishes this update to convey general information about market conditions and not for the purpose of providing investment advice. Investment in any of the companies or sectors mentioned herein may not be appropriate for you. You should consult a representative from PMFA for investment advice regarding your own situation.

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