Here’s one thing that Donald Trump is probably right about: An economic recession is coming—if he becomes president.
But Trump’s prediction may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy if he succeeds in winning the presidency. That’s because a recession has happened every single time a Republican has been in the White House since William McKinley was president in 1900, according to a new report by S&P Capital IQ. In other words, if Trump won and somehow averted his own dire forecast, he would be the first GOP leader in more than a century to keep the U.S. economy growing while in office.
Democrats, on the other hand, have a significantly better track record. President Barack Obama is on track to become the fourth Democratic president—and the second in a row after Bill Clinton—to avoid a recession starting on his watch. While Obama took over the Oval Office at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008-’09, the downturn started under his predecessor George W. Bush. And the chances of another recession starting before Obama’s term is up are slim, with a likelihood of only 15 to 20% by S&P Capital IQ’s estimate.
The last time a recession began while a Democrat was in the White House was almost exactly 36 years ago, in 1980, when Jimmy Carter was president. Besides Obama and Clinton, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, who served consecutively, are the other Democratic Commanders In Chief to stave off an economic downturn during their terms. By comparison, their GOP predecessor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, presided over three recessions while in office, according to S&P Capital IQ.
Still, a panel of 70 economists surveyed this week by the Wall Street Journal forecasted a 20% chance of a U.S. recession within the next year—no matter who wins the presidential election in November.