A new book by a business lawyer and a financial services firm head, hitting shelves just months before the presidential election, finds that Democratic presidents have been far more successful at guiding the U.S. economy than Republicans.
Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box, written by Lew Goldfarb and Bob Deitrick, looked at 12 indicators of the economy—including the deficit, months in recession and stock market performance—to assess how American presidents of the last 80 years have performed. In 11 of 12 of those indicators, the authors found that Democratic presidents came out on top.
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The only indicator in which the GOP outperformed Democrats on the economy was in the average annual unemployment rate.
President Barack Obama does not feature in the rankings, as he has not yet completed a four-year term. But if Obama were evaluated now on all 12 of the indicators, he would fall somewhere in the middle of the pack, Deitrick says. The bottom of the pack overall is populated by Republicans: Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George W. Bush and Herbert Hoover.
"When we started writing, we did not cherry pick any of the data," says Deitrick, who said he knew only the stock market data when he began and "had no idea where the rest of the chips would fall."
"It was overwhelming and surprising to see the Democrats win on almost all of the economic indicators," he said.
Dietrick hopes that voters will use the book to make informed decisions in the voting booth come November. As a financial planner, Dietrick advises voters to choose their presidents like they do their stocks: "using sound economic data... and consistency, predictability and stability."
In his mind, that means choosing a Democrat.
Below, see where American presidents rank for six of the economic indicators. (Democrats are the darker color; Republicans the lighter one.)
Average Annual Employment Rate
Average Annual Stock Market Return
Percentage of Months in Recession
Average Annualized Change in Personal Disposable Income Per Capita
Average Annual Trade Balance