The 2020 Presidential Election: Policy Paths & Economic Impact



June 26, 2020

Trump and Biden silhouettes.
Trump and Biden silhouettes.

This week, we sat down with Michael Zezas, Managing Director of U.S. Public Policy Research & Municipal Credit Strategy at Morgan Stanley, to discuss the 2020 Presidential Election. In his presentation, Zezas covers the current election state, policy paths, fiscal stimulus, and relations with China.

Check out the Expert Briefing Series to watch Zezas’s full presentation and view all of our webcasts.

To read the report behind this presentation and more Morgan Stanley research, log in to AlphaSense or start a free trial.

What’s at Stake in the 2020 Presidential Election?

We are currently five months away from the 2020 election, and early analysis indicates that Joe Biden has an advantage over a second term for President Trump. However, even with Mr. Biden’s edge in the 2020 Presidential race, Democrats need to win Congressional seats in battleground states to make tangible policy changes.

Analyzing Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s policy platforms shows a lot at stake–particularly for overall economic recovery for corporate America, small businesses, and individuals post-coronavirus.


Policy trajectory from Michael Zezas’s webcast presentation showing the legislative agendas and policy priorities for Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden.

The outcome of the 2020 election will determine if the United States can sustain economic recovery–mainly as COVID-19 requires more spending. Since early 2020, the United States government has provided more and more financial assistance to corporate America, small businesses, and individual households. Zezas predicts that the United States will likely need another round of stimulus this summer to keep the economy moving.

In such a volatile state, with many important domestic and foreign policy issues hanging in the balance, the difference between a Donald Trump presidency (with a Republican-held Congress) and a Joe Biden presidency (with a Democrat-held Congress) is significant. 

Plausible Policy Paths

Since World War Two, Morgan Stanley analyzed 1-year completion rates of first-term Presidential promises. The findings indicated that a President’s policy platform does not always equate to the legislation they pass once in office, particularly if the majority party in the House and Senate opposes a President’s policies.


Morgan Stanley Research survey of 77 first-term Presidential campaign promises accomplished during the first 12 months of an incoming President’s term, based on a historical press and Congressional record review.


When Congress and the Executive branch remain divided, Presidents have less room to achieve their platform promises. As a result, about one-third of campaign promises get done, which is only if the President’s party is carrying both areas of Congress.

Dive Deeper into Morgan Stanley Research

This presentation was based on Zezas’s recently published report: “2020 U.S. Election: A Revised Guide to Economic Policy Paths & Market Impacts.” To read the complete guide and more Morgan Stanley research, log in to AlphaSense or start a free trial.

To watch Zezas’s full presentation, including deeper dives into the United States’ relationship with China and election impact across sectors, visit our  Expert Briefing Series.

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