Freelancers are a powerful and growing force of the U.S. economy. And they are also an important voting bloc in a contentious presidential election.
In 2016, there are 55 million American freelancers, representing 35 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to a new report commissioned by Upwork and Freelancers Union and conducted by independent research firm Edelman Intelligence.
Freelancers earned $1 trillion between August 2015 and August 2016, according to the report, which was released on Thursday.
This group of proactive go-getters is not just important for the economy, it's also important for the next president.
A dramatically higher percentage of the freelance workforce is expected to show up to vote on Nov. 8 than the percentage of the general population that turned up in 2012. Eighty-five percent of freelancers report being likely to vote, while only 57.5 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, according to data from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
So who will those 47 million of voting freelancers choose? They are with her.
Forty-five percent of freelancers say they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, 33 percent say they will vote for Donald Trump, 9 percent say they will vote for Gary Johnson and 12 percent are undecided.
For the report, 6,000 U.S. working adults were surveyed between July 29 and August 24, and about a third were freelancers.
"As their ranks continue to swell, [freelancers] have come to represent a largely untapped voter bloc that could have huge implications for our political system," said Sara Horowitz, the founder and executive director of the Freelancers Union, in a written statement released with the report.
"Highly motivated and eager to support the candidate that speaks to their needs as freelancers, their votes could be make-or-break in this year's elections, particularly if the polls continue to tighten," she said.
To win over this powerful and growing segment, the candidates would be wise to address the issues that freelancers care about most: having health-care and retirement benefits.
Freelancers might be more inclined to vote Clinton because she supports universal, affordable health care, which is important to a group that doesn't rely on employers for health insurance benefits.
Additionally, more millennials and members of Gen Z are freelancing than any other age group, according to the data, and Trump polls particularly poorly with younger voters, according to a report from The Harvard Public Opinion Project.
Despite the challenges that come with being out on your own, freelancers are proud to be forging their own way, according to the report.
Two-thirds of freelancers are working on their own by choice, according to the survey, and that's because they like being their own boss, as well as the schedule and location flexibility.