BC-New MerchantCircle Survey Reveals More Than 60 Percent of Busines

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MerchantCircle.com today released findings from a survey of over 6,000

small business owners across the U.S. to assess political sentiment

and likely voting preferences in the run-up to the November 2012

elections. The data shows that economic concerns continue to weigh

heavily on small businesses, with the economy rated as the #1 issue

facing the country today. The survey also revealed that a sizable

percentage of small business owners are still undecided in their

November voting preference.

Key findings include:

1. Republicans have been most effective at positioning the party as

supportive of small business interests.

The data shows that while all parties have had success over the past

two years aligning themselves with the interests of small businesses,

Republicans have been most effective in these efforts. Nearly 40

percent of respondents now say that Republicans are most supportive of

small business interests, up from just 23 percent in October 2010.

Just 25 percent said Democrats are most supportive (up slightly from

23 percent in October 2010), and 16 percent say that the Tea Party is

most supportive (flat from October 2010). In general, all three

parties have been effective at courting this audience: the number of

small businesses who say they're unsure of which party is most

supportive of their interests has dropped to just 16 percent (down

from 37 percent in October 2010).

2. Small business owners are increasingly pessimistic about the

economy.

Economic concerns continue to be widespread among small business

owners, with 60 percent of respondents saying the economy is one of

the top issues facing the country today, and 41 percent saying that

jobs are a top issue. This represents a significant decrease in

optimism in the economic turnaround over the past year, with 61

percent saying that they do not believe the worst effects of the

recession are behind us -- a stark increase from January 2011, when

just 41 percent said they believed the worst effects were not behind

us.

3. Fifteen percent of small business owners are still undecided in

their November voting preference.

While most small business owners say that they know which party they

will support in November, there is still a sizable number of small

business votes up for grabs, with 15 percent of respondents saying

they are still unsure of whom they will support in the upcoming

elections. These undecided voters are also much less certain about

which political party is most supportive of small business interests,

with 46 percent saying they're unsure which party best supports their

interests (as compared to just 9 percent of the voters whose voting

preference is already decided).

4. Small businesses are most receptive to political messages delivered

via social media.

With 15 percent of the small business vote up for grabs, candidates

should be focusing on ways to reach this audience, but the data shows

that reaching them via traditional methods such as TV commercials may

pose a challenge.

According to the data, TV ads are seen as the least informative

marketing method, with just 7 percent finding these to be informative,

while 60 percent say they find these ads annoying and 40 percent

saying they tune them out. Direct mail political fliers and materials

fare only marginally better: 15 percent of respondents say they find

these materials informative, while 36 percent tune them out and 54

percent find them annoying.

Social media may be a better bet for candidates looking to reach this

audience: the survey shows that 50 percent of small business owners

follow political candidates or related organizations on Facebook and

14 percent follow these groups on Twitter. Small business owners are

also much more receptive to political tweets and posts via social

media than TV ads or direct mail, with 23 percent of respondents

saying they find political tweets and posts to be informative. This

would indicate that social media may be three-times as effective as TV

for political campaigns that are trying to target small business

owners.

Results of this survey do not necessarily represent views of Reply!

Inc. or its team.

About MerchantCircle.comWith over 1.2 million member merchants,

MerchantCircle.com is the largest online network of its kind in the

nation. With MerchantCircle.com, local business owners gain access to

marketing tools to boost their online visibility and find customers.

When online reviews aren't enough, consumers rely on

MerchantCircle.com to find the best merchants and deals, get expert

advice and secure competitive quotes on local goods and services. In

June 2011, MerchantCircle.com was acquired by Reply! Inc., the leading

marketplace for the acquisition of locally-targeted and

category-specific consumer traffic.

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