With the ISM Manufacturing report coming in at the highest level in two years today we wondered whether a strong manufacturing sector ahead of an election has any impact on the results. One would think that surging activity in the Manufacturing sector would be good for a President’s re-election chances. To shed some light on this, the table below shows the election results of each election since 1952 based on which party was in the White House and which party won the election. For each Presidential Election, we also show the level of the October ISM Manufacturing report, its three-month change as well as the distance of the most reading relative to its 52-week range.
Looking at the overall results, we were surprised to find that there’s not that much of a connection between levels of the ISM Manufacturing report before an election and the actual results of the election. Overall, when the party of the President in the Oval in the Oval office stays the same, the median level of the ISM Manufacturing report ahead of the election is 54.1. When the party flips, the median level is modestly lower at 52.0. October’s ISM Manufacturing report was also the third-highest level heading into a Presidential election on record. The only two that were higher were the election of 1972 (67.0) when Nixon defeated McGovern and 1964 (60.7) when Johnson defeated Goldwater, and in both of those elections, the party of the President stayed the same.
Additionally, when the party in control stays the same, the ISM Manufacturing report has been slightly closer to a 52-week high (-4.2) than it has when the parties flip (-5.4). However, the only two times that the ISM Manufacturing report was at a 52-week high leading up to the election were in 1972 and 1980. In 1972, Nixon was re-elected, but in 1980 President Carter lost his re-election bid despite the ISM Manufacturing report being at a 52-week high, and the three-month change was the strongest of any other election since 1952.
While those two metrics would suggest a slight case for a strong ISM Manufacturing report helping the party in power, the median three-month change has actually been worse when the party of the President stays the same (-0.7) versus when there is a change (-0.5). Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options for instant access to our research and interactive tools.