Investors & the Markets: What to Watch Out for in an Election Year

George Sisti |

Smart investing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Current events matter, and this year, the 2024 Presidential Elections are taking center stage.

That’s rattling a lot of us, causing more election stress than ever before.1

It’s also raising a lot of questions about investing in election years, how to respond to market uncertainty, and what money moves truly make sense.

Here’s a handful of key factors to keep in mind when you’re investing in an election year.

5 Things That Can Trip Investors Up in Election Years

Election years, especially ones with presidential candidates on the ballot, can dial up the emotions, anxiety, and general frenzy in American politics and our financial lives.1 Whether or not you’re feeling that this year, don’t let the factors below get in the way of prudent financial choices and your big-picture goals.

1. Political “noise” & bias

Scary news gets views, clicks, and eyeballs, and election years can give rise to all sorts of unsettling headlines and stories.2

That’s one reason why more headlines are focused on fear, anger, and disgust-driven topics these days.2

It’s also why more of us find ourselves doom scrolling and second-guessing the media. 2, 3

And no matter where we go for news in an election year, we can be inundated with alarming information and “what ifs,” which can make us spin out every worst-case scenario.4

With that, we’re more likely to overestimate the risks and impacts of the other party’s policies.5, 6

Stick to a few trusted media sources for your news. Don’t spend hours reading, watching, or listening to the news. If you need to check headlines every day, set aside just a few minutes. Also, turn off your push notifications for news apps, so you can take in the shocking headlines on your terms and timetable.

2. A short-term outlook

With a presidential election on the horizon, a lot of attention is paid to who’s running, what they’re promising, and what they’ll do if they win. That can shift our mindset to the short-term, making us far more sensitive to the smaller market hiccups that may occur in election years.7

It can also mean we put far too much weight into the results of any given election.

Remember, the markets don’t actually care about elections and presidents, per se. Policies matter more.7 Plus, regardless of which party takes control of the White House, most election years have brought stock market gains, with more stability after the election is over.8 So, try not to zero in on the 2024 (or any) Presidential Election results as making it or breaking it for your financial life and future.

3. Ignoring the trends

Election year stock trends may be less volatile than you imagine.8 In fact, positive returns have marked most election years over the past century. That includes the last three elections in:8, 9

  • 2020 when Joe Biden won, and market returns were 18.4%.
  • 2016 when Donald Trump won, and S&P returns were 11.96%.
  • 2012 when sitting President Barack Obama was reelected, and market returns were 16%.

Let's put the drama of politics in its place. And its place should not be the driver’s seat when it comes to our financial decisions.

4. Trying to time the markets

Timing the markets can be a fool’s game. That’s why most pros say time in the markets is far better than timing the markets.

And if your long-term goals and overall circumstances haven’t really changed, changes in your investment strategies may not make a whole lot of sense, presidential election year or not.

Don’t base your financial moves on politics, trending stories, or heat-of-the-moment panics.

5. Not checking in with a financial pro

With major events like elections, uncertainty is natural. None of us know exactly how it’s all going to play out, and that can be nerve-racking from a financial perspective. Trying to balance all of that on your own can be a mistake.

If you’re considering a major money move before or because of an election, talk it out with a financial professional first. Connecting with a financial professional, especially during an election year, can offer the insights and advice you may need to make better financial choices in and out of any election year.



This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. Individuals involved in the estate planning process should work with an estate planning team, including their own personal legal or tax counsel. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a representation by us of a specific investment or the purchase or sale of any securities. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. This material was developed and produced by Advisor Websites to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. Copyright 2024 Advisor Websites.