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Voting for the First Time
  by Darrel Henschell

As a Canadian who recently became a citizen, I am, along with my eighteen year old son, very much looking forward to voting for the very first time. Like many citizens, I am interested in supporting the party with the best track record on the economy, job creation, small government and fiscal responsibility. Setting aside all of the political chatter and what each side claims about their record I thought I would look into this. Here is what I found.

Which party is better for the stock market? Slate magazine checked the numbers (in 2002) and found that since 1900, Democratic presidents have produced a 12.3 percent annual total return on the S&P 500 compared with an 8% return from the Republicans. Stock Trader's Almanac examined Dow appreciation and found similar numbers (13.4 percent versus 8.1 percent). [1]

Just weeks ago the New York Times examined how an investment of $10,000 would have grown under each party during this time. They found that a $10,000 investment in the S.& P. 500 would have grown to $11,733 if invested under Republican presidents only. If we exclude Herbert Hoover's disastrous depression numbers the growth rises to $51,211. The same investment made during Democratic presidents only, would have grown to $300,671.[2]

Does having a Republican Congress help the market? No, the record shows that a Democratic controlled Senate provided a higher return and a Democratic controlled House also enjoyed a higher return. [3]

How about growth of GDP? American Gross Domestic Product has grown nearly three times as fast under Democrats as Republicans. Since 1930, the annual mean growth in real GDP under Republican Presidents has been 1.8 percent; under Democrats, 5.1 percent. [4]

Which party has had the largest annual deficits? Over the last 75 years, Republican administrations have had an average annual deficit of $83.4 billion. The average for Democratic presidents is one fourth of that, only $20 billion. [5]

How about job creation? James Carville put it this way: "In the last fifty years, there have been ten Presidents--five Democrats and five Republicans--and the Democrats place first, second, third, fourth and fifth [in new job creation] the chance of that occurring randomly is 1 in 252 " [6]

How about poverty? With the exception of president Nixon, poverty went up under every Republican president since 1961. Under every Democratic president since 1961, it fell. [7]

Which party is better at "small government" and keeping federal spending down? Since 1959 federal spending has gone up an average $35 billion a year under Democratic presidents and $60 billion under Republicans. So it's no surprise to find Republican presidents have increased the national debt much faster, more than $200 billion per year, versus less than a $100 billion per year under Democrats. And this is not even counting the second term of G.W. Bush. [8]

There are many more categories to consider, inflation, unemployment, income gain. I found they all trend in favor of the Democrats and like the above it's usually not even close. And the trend holds up even if lag factors are figured in.

It's curious how effective false advertising has been for the Republican party. Contrary to the story they have sold nearly half the country, America has done very well under Democratic presidents, and in fact far better than under Republican presidents.


[1] Slate magazine,
[2] Bulls, Bears, Donkeys and Elephants,
[3] Slate magazine,
[4] George Mason's University, History News Network,
[5] ibid
[6] "We're Right, They're Wrong," (1996)  James Carville, pg. 13
[7] Census poverty data, see:
[8] Michael Kinsley, Washington post:

Darrel Henschell
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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