SmallBiz Vote

Surprising small biz election survey results—Part 2

Small business voters care less about taxes than jobs

George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management says its latest survey of small business owners, conducted with Thumbtack.com, was designed to provide the media, policymakers, and the public at large with a better understanding of what small businesses value in the 2012 Presidential election. In addition to the stunning revelation that more small business owners would reelect President Obama than would vote for Governor Romney, here are some other stats from their recent Small Business Political Sentiment Survey of more than 6,000 small business owners.

The economy/jobs was far and away the top election priority cited by respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. From a list of 12 polling-booth priorities including "Beating Obama" and "Beating Romney," far more respondents (40 percent) chose "economy/jobs" than any other issue. A distant second concern was "ethics/honesty/corruption in government," the top priority of 13 percent of respondents.

Nationwide, the story was largely the same across party lines, the survey authors reported. "However, there were meaningful differences between male and female business owners. Across all political affiliations, men were more likely to choose the economy/jobs as the most important issue, especially among Democrats and Independents. In contrast, women were more likely to choose ethics/honesty/corruption in government or social/moral issues than were men," the authors reported.

Taxes? At the near bottom of the list, the top priority of only 3 percent. Only foreign policy and national security is of less concern to most small business owners.

Asked "specifically about the economy," more than one-fourth of respondents chose "unemployment and the job market" as their number-one concern from a list of 11 other economic issues including taxes, healthcare, the federal deficit, and the financial and banking system.

The survey authors reported, "While the economy is clearly the most important issue to small businesses, there is less consistency with respect to which facets of the economy matter most to them. 'Unemployment and the job market' wins with a plurality of over a quarter of all respondents choosing that as the most important economic issue for them. However, many other choices garnered a substantial portion of the response, with the majority of the thirteen options receiving in the 3-6 percent range."

Responses tended to be very similar across the political spectrum, with a few exceptions: While 16 percent of respondents overall named the federal budget deficit as the most important economic issue, 27 percent of Republicans, but only 8 percent of Democrats, did.

Survey authors note that the opposite was true of health care costs: It's a top concern to 15 percent of Democrats but only 8 percent of Republicans.

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