Small Business

Is Obama The Choice of Small Business?

Patricia Orsini|Small Business Editor

There are no shortage of surveys taking the pulse of small business owners this month.

And the results can sometimes be a little confusing.

Take, for instance, these two surveys that crossed our desk this week: one, the Q4 Small Business Study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the other, from Pepperdine University.

Pepperdine asked business owners which presidential candidate, if elected would have the most favorable impact on business. Their choice? Barack Obama, with 29 percent. (Mitt Romney leads the Republicans with 24 percent, and Newt Gingrich is a distant second at 15 percent. Of course, that was before we learned about his open marriage.)

However, the responses change as the salary of business owners increases. Those earning over $1 million prefer Romney. And the spread between the two candidates increases as salary rises — no surprise there.

But the overall support for Obama is surprising, given that, according to 85 percent of the folks over at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country is headed in the wrong direction. The reasons: 78 percent say taxation, regulation and legislation from Washington make it difficult to hire. And 74 percent cite health care legislation as a roadblock to hiring.

But it's not all doom and gloom in Washington. Thirty-four percent say climate for small businesses is likely to improve over next two years; significant increase from octover, when 23 percent said environment is improving.

The Pepperdine respondents are more upbeat. A little more than half of respondents — 52 percent — said they are feeling somewhat more confident than last year. In 2011, that number was just 32 percent. And 22 percent say they feel more confident, vs. just 16 percent in 2011.

The 3,118 respondents are pragmatic when it comes to expectations for economic growth. Asked when they think U.S. unemployment will sink to 6 percent, 26 percent said they would have to wait until 2014; another 27 percent said they didn’t expect to see that number until 2015.

Employers are moving slowly on raises, as well, with 42 percent saying they will give raises this year, and 41 percent saying they would not.

So, what's to account for the differences in responses? Hmmm, maybe it's a West coast vs. East coast thing?