We previously observed that the stock market has a strong tendency to perform well following midterm elections irrespective of the actual election outcome. Since 1942, during each of the 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month periods following each of the 20 midterm elections, the S&P 500 was up on average by 7.6%, 14.1%, and 14.9%. Of the 60 observations, only three of them were negative. But none of the 20 observed 12-month changes were negative!
It is widely believed that political gridlock is bullish for stocks in the US. The market is happiest when our constitutional system of checks and balances is working. Therefore, a divided government is preferable to a unified government when one party controls the White House and both houses of Congress. That all makes sense. However, gridlock may not be bullish this time if the government can’t function because of extreme partisanship. We do expect nasty fights over the federal debt ceiling, for example.