presidential campaign

By Rieva Lesonsky

The presidential campaign season is in full swing (it’s hard to avoid all the noise) and, like many Americans small business owners have some opinions on the race. Several different surveys have been released revealing what small business owners think about the presidential candidates.

The Sage Election Survey from Sage Software customers (36% were registered Republicans, 14% Democrats, 2% Independent and 50% didn’t identify a party) shows, says Connie Certusi, executive vice president and managing director, Sage USA, that “Main Street is angry, disgusted and discontent.”

They identify their most important issues as:

  • Excessive regulation
  • Taxes
  • The economy
  • Debt
  • Health

The survey shows they don’t care about social issues, such as climate change and energy. Certusi says small business owners feel that “Washington is out of touch with their priorities” and specifically that:

  • Washington focuses on the wrong special interest groups
  • Washington focuses on the wrong priorities
  • Washington makes the wrong policy decisions

The small business owners rank small business as their number-one priority, followed by the military and the middle class, while they think Washington’s priorities are (in order) big business, minorities and government employees. They think the government should be focusing on fixing the economy, energy and healthcare and they want to see new policies concerning tax reform, the deficit and social security. They don’t care about policies focusing on climate change, income inequality or raising the minimum wage.

The poll was conducted in January, and at that time their number-one choice for president was Donald Trump. Ted Cruz came in second.

A newer survey from online lender OnDeck shows, as the primary season progresses, more than one-third of small business owners are losing faith in the candidates. The survey reveals that 34% do not have confidence in any of the current candidates, up from 25% in a survey taken last fall.

The survey also reveals small business owners are looking to candidates this election season to address three critical issues: economic growth (67%), tax policy (46%) and healthcare costs (35%). In order to help small businesses in the near term, some respondents would like to see the federal government cut taxes (36%), reduce healthcare costs (19%), invest in infrastructure improvement (13%), and cease increases in the minimum wage (13%).

They think the candidates who have the best interests of small business in mind are: Donald Trump (37%), Bernie Sanders (28%), and Hillary Clinton (16%).

Yet another survey, the Reputada Presidential Election Poll rated the behaviors of the candidates. Of the business owners and managers surveyed, Bernie Sanders received 75% positive behaviors, while Ted Cruz received the most intense negative ratings.

There’s plenty to unpack in these surveys, but I’ll leave that up to you to do. I do want to note, for the record, the only candidate who regularly mentions small business on the campaign trail is Hillary Clinton.