On Wednesday morning, the United States woke up to a presidential stalemate. A cloud of uncertainty loomed over the nation, as major key states were still counting votes. It remains a tight race, as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden compete for the battleground states.
Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania Secretary of State, announced in a press conference on Wednesday that the state has counted nearly 50% of its mail-in ballots, with millions more remaining.
The Keystone State has called for the nation to exercise its patience. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf promised, “I will do everything within my power to ensure that the results are fair and that every vote is counted.” He continued, “Pennsylvania will have a fair election.”
As more data comes in, Trump is asserting voter fraud, tweeting, “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the polls are closed.”
Corporations do not like uncertainty. When the future is fuzzy, they’ll put off making decisions, as they can’t properly calculate the risks and rewards. It’s easier and expedient to take the path of least resistance and just do nothing.
They’ll wait until the dust settles before they engage in any new hiring, launching business lines, products and services, opening new offices, factories and will shelve any pending initiatives. The result will be that everything seizes up. The longer and more vitriolic the battle for the presidency takes, fear will grow.
People will stop spending and put aside emergency money. This will hurt businesses that are already reeling. Companies will enact hiring freezes, cut costs and lay off workers. It will be too easy for corporate executives to put everything on hold until 2021.
It’s unlikely that another round of stimulus will be passed in Congress—given the current events. Without extra financial help, there may be an increase in bankruptcies. Banks will be concerned over loans that may not be able to be paid back. Families will fret how they can pay their bills, rent and mortgages. The tension could lead to further civil unrest. Protests and violence may occur, further deteriorating the already-unsteady situation.
The only other modern-day equivalent to this highly contested presidential election was back in 2000, when it took five weeks to determine a winner between George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore.
It would have been presumed that based on 2000, after this contested election, the U.S. would see a meaningful uptick in volatility. From Election Day 2000 through year-end, recounts and legal challenges added to market volatility for the S&P 500, which fell by 7.8% at the time.
It’s reasonable to believe that the market would have fallen due to the lack of clarity on the election. Instead, all of the major stock indexes rallied sharply higher. This may indicate that Wall Street believes that everything will work out well for the U.S. Historically, the stock market serves as a forward-looking barometer.
Eventually, this contention will pass. A president will be decided. We will get our equilibrium back. Slowly, we’ll dig ourselves out of this mess. In the meantime, you need to stay strong. It’s easy to throw up your hands in defeat and just give up. Don’t do this. Stay the course. If you are on the job hunt, keep going. Plant the seeds for the future when things turn around. If you aren’t searching for a new job, it wouldn’t hurt to keep your eyes open just in case. Use this time wisely to learn new skills, build up your network and formulate plans if your job is derailed. You might need to make a career pivot or reinvent yourself. Ensure that you are seen as indispensable at work, so that your job will be safe. These are tough, scary times. It calls for you to summon up all of your courage. Tune out all of the noise, drama and arguing. Hang in there and stay strong.