Small Business

It's Obama. No, Ron Paul. Wait, It's Romney: Survey

Patricia Orsini|Small Business Editor
President Barack Obama
Photo by: Pete Souza

have no trouble telling Washington, or anyone else, how they really feel about policies affecting the running of their businesses.

Perhaps that’s why there is no shortage of surveys among companies servicing small businesses. Yet another survey was released this week showing preferences for presidential candidates.

And, like the Republican primaries, each one tells a different story. A survey released this week from Manta, an online community for small businesses, reveals that business owners believe President Barack Obama is the biggest supporter of small business. He was the favorite with 32 percent of respondents.

But Obama, or at least his administration, was not favored last August, when Manta polled 2,324 business owners and asked if they felt the current administration had helped or hurt small business. At that time, an overwhelming majority — 63 percent — said his administration has hurt small business.

We're not sure what has changed since last August, except that the field of Republican candidates has dwindled since the days of eight-candidate debates.

Among the Republican candidates, Ron Paul was first, with 20 percent.

So, if business owners are looking to the Republicans to fix things, who will be their guy? Not Ron Paul. Asked, “Who is the strongest GOP candidate?” Mitt Romney received more than double the votes of any other Republican candidate: 38 percent. Ron Paul was second with 19 percent.

Pam Springer, CEO of Manta, said that the differences in opinions from one survey to the next are indicative of the ambivalence small business owners are feeling about the candidates, and the way government is dealing with issues affecting small business. “54 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with the field of presidential candidates,” she said.

Despite that, she continued, most small business owners are looking ahead. “They expect the economic outlook to improve after the election, and the issues they most care about are shifting from unemployment to tax policy,” she said.

While unemployment remains high on the list of concerns (15 percent), tax policy (17 percent) and healthcare (15 percent) are also high, which indicates, said Springer, that “they are now thinking about growth. They want to hear about tax policy because with increased revenue, more will be coming out of their pocket. If they are adding head count, they want to know how they are going to be incentivized to take on more risk.”

Manta will continue to poll small business owners until the November election. Springer expects that, as the field narrows, the issues will become more pointed, as well. “I would expect it to get loud on tax policy and small business lending,” she said. “And the viewpoints will become more clear.”