Donald Trump continues to enjoy a lead in several national polls, and it looks like his popularity surge continues among the small-business crowd.
As the campaign trail heats up on the road to the 2016 presidential election, candidates are beginning to vie for the small-business vote. According to a new poll from Manta, a small-business networking platform, Trump is the top choice among small-business owners for president with close to 38 percent of respondents selecting him. That comes even after his performance in the recent GOP debate and tussle with Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly.
Democrat Hillary Clinton came in second with 17 percent of the vote, with Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in a virtual tie for third place with nearly 6 percent of the vote each. Manta surveyed 815 small-business owners.
Even Trump's GOP competition, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, have acknowledged he has "struck a nerve" among some voters. This seems to be the case on Main Street as well, said Jack Mozloom, director of media and communications at the National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative lobbying group.
"He has tapped into something. I think what our members like best about him is the fact that he speaks in simple language that they understand. He is a casual, real guy," Mozloom said.
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Trump is also good at "diagnosing problems," Mozloom added, something that resonates with small-business owners feeling frustrated by regulations, tax burdens and slow growth on Main Street.
"I am sure that they expect he will flesh out his policy agenda, and if not he will disappear," he said.
Clinton is also adept at diagnosing problems, which is why small-business owners are opting for her in second place, Mozloom said. She has also said she wants to be a "small-business president," touting on a campaign stop in Cedar Falls, Iowa, her own father's experience as a drapery printer .
"I want to be a small-business president, a president who does make it easier to start and run a small business in this country, so it seems less like a gamble and more like an opportunity. We have to level the playing field for our small businesses," Clinton said.
Candidates aside, small businesses also weighed in on their top campaign issues. The biggest concern for nearly 40 percent of respondents was the economy, followed by taxes at close to 21 percent and health care in third with nearly 9 percent.
Despite optimism among America's small businesses slowly ticking higher, Mozloom said these are three consistent issues that resonate with small employers.
"Main Street hasn't enjoyed the kind of recovery that Wall Street has for the past several years with record highs for the market and record profits," he said. "There's been virtually no growth for almost a decade—it's two steps forward, one step back."