.
U.S. Presidents serve for a four year term. Presidential elections are held in
November of the fourth year. Presidents begin the first year of their term in
January of the year following the November election.  President Obama was
elected to his first term in November of 2008.  The first year of his term was
2009. His second year, 2010. His third, 2011 and his fourth, 2012.

Congressional elections occur in both the second and fourth year of each
Presidential term. (e. g. 2010, 2012. 2014, 2016, etc).
The election to be held in November of 2014 will be a Congressional election.
2016 will include both Presidential and Congressional elections.
... Does the stock market tend to perform poorly during the first half of a
Presidential term and then improve during the last half?

Historically stronger gains in the last two years tend to support that theory.

It is called the Presidential Election Cycle. It's proponents allege that politicians
do things that upset the voters near the middle of the Presidential term and then
clean up the problem as election day approaches. The cycle only has merit in
the future if politicians continue to fear voter's wrath on election day.
Presidential Election Cycle: DJIA Since 1899
 
First
Year
Second
Year
Third
Year
Election
Year
Average Annual Gain
Best Annual Gain
Worst Annual Gain
5%
67%
-33%
3%
44%
-34%
12%
82%
-53%
7%
48%
-34%
Returns for each year of the U.S. Presidential term for the Dow Jones Industrial
Average from 1900 through the end of the last complete calender year. Dividends
are not included in the stock market returns above.
Presidential Election Cycle: DJIA Since 1999
 
First
Year
Second
Year
Third
Year
Election
Year
Average Annual Gain
Best Annual Gain
Worst Annual Gain
9%
26%
-7%
5%
16%
-17%
12%
25%
6%
-7%
7%
-34%
Returns for each year of the U.S. Presidential term for the Dow Jones Industrial
Average from 2000 through the end of the last complete calender year. Dividends
are not included in the stock market returns above.
Presidential Election Cycle: DJIA Since 1949
 
First
Year
Second
Year
Third
Year
Election
Year
Average Annual Gain
Best Annual Gain
Worst Annual Gain
5%
28%
-17%
7%
44%
-28
17%
38%
2%
5%
26%
-34%
Returns for each year of the U.S. Presidential term for the Dow Jones Industrial
Average from 1950 through the end of the last complete calender year. Dividends
are not included in the stock market returns above.
Note for non U. S. subscribers:
Updated 5/28/15

2016 is the fourth year of the current Presidential term.
Presidential Election Cycle
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