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Election cycles can make unpredictable markets even more uncertain. Here’s what you should know!

Investing in an election year can seem like navigating a particularly unpredictable segment of the market. Political campaigns and the uncertainty surrounding election outcomes can lead to increased volatility in the stock market, impacting investor sentiment and behavior. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of investing during an election year, providing insights into how elections typically affect the market and offering strategies for managing investment portfolios during these tumultuous periods.

Understanding Market Volatility in Election Years [1,2]

Historically, U.S. election years have been associated with higher market volatility. This is primarily due to the uncertainty surrounding policy changes that new administrations might implement. Investors tend to be risk-averse to the unknown, and the potential for significant shifts in policies regarding taxation, regulation, and government spending can result in cautious trading and increased market fluctuations.

A study by Vanguard found that while the stock market experiences higher volatility in the months leading up to an election, it tends to perform in line with broader economic conditions over the full year. Thus, the impact of an election might be more about short-term market sentiments than long-term economic fundamentals.

Election Cycles and Market Performance [3]

It’s crucial to note that not all election years have the same impact on the market. For instance, the market’s reaction might vary significantly depending on whether it is a presidential election year or a midterm election. Presidential elections typically garner more attention and can cause greater uncertainty, especially if the race is particularly close or contentious.

Data from the Stock Trader’s Almanac indicates that historically, the third year of a presidential term (the year before an election year) tends to be the strongest for stocks within the four-year cycle. This could be due to the incumbent administration pushing favorable economic policies to secure re-election.

Strategies for Investing in an Election Year

1. Stay the Course: One of the fundamental principles of investing is to maintain a long-term perspective. Reacting to short-term volatility can lead to poor investment decisions. Investors should focus on their long-term investment goals and avoid making impulsive decisions based on the electoral cycle.

2. Diversification: This is a staple recommendation for any investor but becomes particularly pertinent during times of increased volatility. Ensuring your portfolio includes a mix of asset classes (stocks, bonds, real estate, international assets) can help mitigate risks associated with any single economic event or sector.

3. Focus on Fundamentals: Rather than focusing solely on the electoral cycle, investors should consider the economic fundamentals of their investments. This includes factors like company earnings, valuations, and the economic environment. Investments that are solid on these fundamentals are likely to weather the volatility better.

4. Consider Historical Trends, but with Caution:  While historical data can provide insight, every election cycle is different. Factors such as geopolitical tensions, economic disruptions (like a pandemic), and significant policy shifts can all influence market performance in ways that historical trends may not predict.

5. Stay Informed: Keeping abreast of political developments is essential, but it’s important to source information from multiple, reliable outlets to avoid bias. Understanding the potential implications of different election outcomes can help in making more informed investment decisions.


Investing in an election year requires a balanced approach that combines understanding historical trends with a strong focus on long-term financial goals. While it’s tempting to react to the immediate fluctuations that political uncertainty can provoke, a well-considered strategy and diversified portfolio are key to navigating this period.

Reach out to the team at Prime Capital Investment Advisors North Texas if you have questions about investing in an election year, or would like to review whether your portfolio is constructed to meet your goals.
(214) 765-5092

777 International Parkway, Suite 180
Flower Mound, TX 75022
(214) 765-5092