The jury is still out on how the presidential candidates will fare during the next debate, on Oct. 9, in the eyes of a key voter constituency: the small-business sector. The group that is composed of 28 million business owners is a major voting block in the upcoming election.
Yet if the last presidential debate is any guide, the Republican ticket has an advantage. According to an exclusive nationwide poll with Manta, a social network for small businesses, Trump won the first debate in the eyes of small businesses on Main Street.
Manta's survey, which polled a diverse group of 834 small-business owners nationwide between Sept. 26 and Sept. 28 revealed that Republican candidate and business mogul Donald Trump was the winner, with 58.7 percent. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton garnered 41.3 percent of their vote.
The results were different for women business owners. The 53.7 percent of the contingent said Hillary won the debate because of her support for small-business issues.
According to John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, "small business owners are highly invested in this election— and for good reason. This year alone, we've seen updates to the minimum wage, overtime regulations, and continuing healthcare policy changes. With such important issues on the line, we'll likely see more small business owners tuning into the debates and showing up to polls come Nov. 8."
The poll revealed that top concerns for small-business owners in order of priority are access to capital (lending by financial institutions), hiring, religious freedom, foreign policy, immigration, health care and taxes. Almost 80 percent said raising capital was their No. 1 concern. And 77.5 percent said religious freedom was No. 2.
Getting a pulse reading on small business and the election is key. The sector is a key contributor and driver of the U.S. economy. The nation's 28 million small businesses represent 54 percent of all U.S. sales and have provided 55 percent of all jobs since the 1970s, according to the Small Business Administration.
Their vote can be a big swing factor in the election, considering a stunning 60 percent voted in their state primaries and caucuses and should be casting their ballots in November.