The 2020 Election and What It Might Mean

By Sallie Krawcheck

Last updated: 6:20 PM ET, November 4

As much as we had all hoped for a decisive outcome in the presidential race on Tuesday night, it wasn’t a surprise for us to wake up Wednesday morning without one.

Disappointing, yes, but not surprising. With more than half the votes cast more than a week ago, an incomplete count was pretty much the expected result going in. And with states’ mail-in counting laws varying wildly, getting a full count was always expected to take several days.

That didn’t stop the president from claiming victory early Wednesday, saying he took Georgia and North Carolina before they were even called by pundits, never mind fully counted, and demanding that mail-in ballots, which are likely to skew Democratic, not be counted. He stated that he will take the fight to count them to the Supreme Court … whose newest justice has refused to recuse herself in an election case.

With hundreds of thousands of votes left to count and key states still too close to call, getting every vote counted is crucial … but right now, we risk being in electoral crisis territory.

In other news: The incoming administration may well be dealing with a divided government. As of Wednesday night, there are a couple of Senate races still up in the air, but many of the highly contested seats went to Republicans last night, while the House majority remained Democratic.

And so we wait.

While we wait, we watch the investing markets. On election night, the markets swung up and down as the outlook for the election shifted. On Wednesday, they seemed to be taking the news in stride, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.3%, the S&P 500 up 2.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite up 3.9%. The rally was likely driven by the increased likelihood of a divided government, with Biden as president and a Republican Senate. That outcome could reduce the chance of higher taxes, which is seen as good for markets. And while the election results are not final, more information came to light throughout the day that was seen as reducing some of the uncertainty — which we know markets hate.

But this as-of-yet-mild response doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods: Investors tend to like decisive outcomes (just like voters) — so we could see ups and downs as investors become anxious about a future they can’t clearly see. The last disputed election (Bush v. Gore in 2000) saw the S&P 500 fall about 5% while the outcome was uncertain … though it’s worth noting that that dispute was a surprise. Flash forward to 2020, and the landscape is very different. The “uncertain outcome” scenario has been in the headlines for months, and the market has been “gearing up” for a while now.

Even absent the election, uncertainty feels everywhere. We are still in a pandemic, and the markets have already been volatile as cases of the coronavirus were on the rise (breaking a record of 500,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a week last week) without a second stimulus package in sight. Whether or not Congress can pass a new package to keep the economy going — without having to wait until January — may have more impact on the market in the coming months than the election itself.

That could mean a bumpy ride. At Ellevest, we build our portfolios around possible market volatility. That means the investment portfolios we build for you are diversified — containing different types of investments with different types of investment risk.

We also consider your investing timeline — when you get nearer to needing your money, we will often shift the mix of investments so that it has less exposure to the more volatile stock market, and therefore less investment risk. If you’re still a long way away from needing your money, you may have more time to recover.

We still don’t know how this election will play out — nor does anyone. And the markets may stay volatile for a while until we get that decisive presidential outcome we’re all waiting for.

Worth remembering while we wait: Tuesday night wasn’t just about the presidential election. Today, we’re also recognizing the wins for women in this election.

Whatever happens, we’ll keep fighting for equality.

We’ll speak up to demand legislation designed to manage our public health as this pandemic continues and measures to reverse the devastating loss of decades of progress women are facing right now.

Like a second comprehensive stimulus package to help the millions of people who have been struggling, and to make sure that Black and Latinx business owners, that women business owners, aren’t getting shut out of loans.

Like — as I noted to Newsweek recently — mandated paid parental leave to help the millions of women whose lives and careers have been rocked by this pandemic. And support for both family care and care workers, so that fragile families and even more vulnerable care workers (mostly women) get the support they’ve been missing for most of a long, long year.

Whether the person sitting at that desk in the Oval Office will be willing to sign this kind of legislation is another story, but still I’m hopeful. Gravely concerned, unsettled, fretful, and so, so tired … but also hopeful.

No matter what happens as the endgame of this election plays out, we at Ellevest are here for you, to answer your questions, to help you manage your money, to help you plan. And to advocate — always — for our collective financial wellness, no matter what happens next.

If you have questions, you can reach me at

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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.