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Wednesday, 4 November 2020

History Predicts Who Will Win The US Presidency

"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme".

This is a quote that aids in quite a fair bit of my decision making.

History rarely repeats in an exact way, but often in similar ways.

In my view, there are 2 ways how history "repeats" itself

  1. Same-Same-But-Different
    Think of it as stock market cycles: there's bull, there's bear, and there are corrections in between. Same pattern, just different themes: technology bubble, oil crisis, etc, and duration.

  2. Different Audience
    Those who lived through the WWI/II, the oil embargo, housing crisis, etc, would have a different mindset than those who didn't live through it. And often those who had not lived through such events are the ones who repeat history.

Who Will Win The Presidency?

This is generally under the 'Same-Same-But-Different' category.

We might think people are choosing based on ideology, based on their beliefs, based on their religion, their liking, or whatever you can name. 

But more often than not (and not completely explainable), Presidents are elected based on certain historical patterns.

Presidency History Trend 1
US Presidents tend to be re-elected for the position

Since 1933, almost every US President won their re-election.
Unless you're Jimmy Carter or George H. W. Bush.

Since 1933, 9/11 (nine-out-of-eleven. Pun intended) sitting Presidents won their re-elections.
That's a very high percentage of re-election. 

If you asked me to bet what's the likely outcome of a US election and there's a sitting President standing for the election, I am going to side with history on this one.

Presidency History Trend 2
Democrat candidates win during recessions

Very specifically since 1933, if the month of voting (which is always November) happens to be in the period of a US recession, 100% of the time the Democratic candidate wins the Presidency. 

Recession PeriodElection DatePresident
Aug 1929 - Mar 1933November 1932Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat)
Apr 1960 - Feb 1961November 1960John F. Kennedy (Democrat)
Dec 2007 - Jun 2009November 2008Barack Obama (Democrat)
Feb 2020 - NowNovember 2020??? 😉

There were no instances of a Republican candidate winning when the election date falls between a US recession.

That's not to say that a Democrat candidate can only win during a recession.
There are instances where Democrat candidates who have won the Presidency when the election date is not between a recession.

But, in cases where the election date does fall within a recession, Democrat candidates seem to always win.

My guess on why Democrats win during recessions:
This is purely hypothetical, but my guess is Democrat candidates are more welfare-based: free/cheap education, healthcare, subsidies, financial aids etc.
These are policies that tend to matter more to people when times are bad (aka recession), hence it aids in Democrat winning the election.

Presidency History Trend 2A
Recession in the election year flips the Presidency

As a follow-up to Trend 2, this trend evaluates when a recession happens in the year of the election.

Recession PeriodElection DateSitting PresidentNext President
Aug 1929 - Mar 1933November 1932Herbert Hoover (Republican)Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat)
Apr 1960 - Feb 1961November 1960Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Jan 1980 - Jul 1980November 1980Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Dec 2007 - Jun 2009November 2008George W. Bush
Barack Obama 
Feb 2020 - NowNovember 2020Donald J. Trump

As we can see, if a recession occurs in the election year, tables can turn to the other team even if it ends before the election date.


This time around, we are seeing 2 contrasting historical trends batting out.

Honestly, even I'm excited to know what's the result even though it does not really affect me.

Do you think Trend 1 or Trend 2 will win?

Who do you think will win the US Presidency?

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  1. Without the Covid-19 Trump win hands down.

    1. Hi,

      We agree with you.
      But it seems now, that the "recession lead to democrat victory" is the stronger trend.