What's driving small-business owners to the voting booths? According to John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, a social network for small-business owners, "there are issues squeezing small-business owners from every side — the economy, taxes and health care. They are looking for a candidate who understands how their sector is being impacted."
Who comes out on top? So far, small-business owners said their No.1 pick is Republican candidate and business mogul Donald Trump in Manta's survey, which polled 8,292 small-business owners nationwide between Jan. 27 and Feb. 1. Thirty-eight percent said the businessman would be the best president for small business, while 21 percent said Democratic candidate Clinton would be.
The top concerns for small-business owners are the economy (49 percent), taxes (18 percent), health care (10 percent) and immigration (8 percent), according to the Manta poll.
Other hot-button issues: the high cost of government regulations, the minimum wage, immigration reform that would make it easier for employers to hire skilled talent from abroad through expansion of the H-1B program, and even trade policy that would affect the nation's small exporters and importers.
"Small-business owners are really concerned about the economy, and only 1 in 5 feel they have recovered from the Great Recession," said Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, an advocacy and education organization for start-up and small-business owners.
"Many of our 100,000 members tell us they are still in survival mode and they are looking at the candidates' policies to see how each plan will spur economic growth."
The candidates' personal ethics and beliefs will also be a deciding factor for small-business voters. Another Manta poll, of 2,432 small-business owners nationwide, revealed that 41 percent of entrepreneurs will be influenced by a candidate's ethics and beliefs.