I expect that by the time many of you get around to reading this month’s issue, the most acrimonious presidential election in modern history will be, well, history.
Writing this column a few weeks before Election Day, I’m not going to make any presumptions on which candidate won. Even if many polls seemed to indicate a landslide — at least in the Electoral College — history is full of media outlets that guessed wrong. You won’t see a “Dewey defeats Truman” headline here.
Our online poll on the presidential election was the most popular we’ve ever run on Snipsmag.com, generating more than 600 votes. Facebook discussions on which candidates received endorsements from industry groups such as the Sheet Metal Workers union were also lively.
As our online poll and social media activity demonstrated, many people strongly believed their candidate had the solutions for many of America’s lingering economic problems.
Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on whether your candidate won or lost — a president’s impact on the national economy is far more limited than most like to admit.
It’s an issue Alan Beaulieu, the chief economist for Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International always stresses to members. During his presentations at HARDI’s annual conventions, Beaulieu is regularly peppered with questions on how much his economic forecast will change if a Republican wins office or if a recession will happen sooner if the Democrat is elected.
His answer is always the same, which probably disappoints some in the audience. Elections are not a major factor in his forecasting. All political candidates like to imply they have a lot of control over the nation’s economic direction. The truth is much less exciting, he says.
“They all imagine that there are a few magic levers that they can pull, but when you get there, it’s much more complicated than that,” Beaulieu told me in a recent interview.
He adds that he’s not saying elections don’t have any impact. Just less than many expect.
“It’s not that it’s immaterial,” he says. “It’s immaterial in the short term. And in this case, the short term means 2017 and 2018.”