Survey: Taxes Not Deciding Factor for Small Business Vote

A new survey reports that taxes are not a fundamental issue when it comes to deciding on a candidate this election year.
Business Writers
September 18, 2012 Taxes are not the deciding factor for small businesses in this election season, says a new report.

The Most Important Issue 

The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management and surveyed more than 6,000 small business across the U.S., nearly all of which had fewer than five workers. Asked “What is the single most important issue in your choice for president?,” just three percent picked taxes. The issue outranked only foreign policy and national security—and even when asked specifically about the “most important economic issue,” fewer than six percent chose taxes.

The single biggest issue for small-business owners this election: The economy and jobs, which 40 percent of those surveyed gave the top rating. The second-most important? Ethics, honesty, and corruption in government. 

Undecided Votes 

Nearly a fifth of the small-business vote is up for grabs, with 20 percent of survey respondents saying they were still undecided in the election—more than double the estimated 6 to 10 percent who are undecided among the general population. Nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents said they considered themselves Independent.

The Small Business Mindset

Among economic issues, top on small-business owners’ list was unemployment, followed by the job market and the federal deficit. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as Republicans chose the federal deficit, compared to just 15 percent of Independents and 8 percent of Democrats.

Entrepreneurs fingered gas and fuel costs as the single most burdensome cost to their businesses. Self-employment taxes were not far behind, ahead of personal income taxes and health care costs.

Small businesses said improved access to loans would be the most helpful policy. Almost 40 percent said President Obama is the most supportive candidate of small business, with 31 percent saying the same of Mitt Romney. Over a quarter (28 percent) aren’t sure which candidate would be better.

“Small businesses are deeply attuned to the effect of politics on job creation and the economy,” says Dr. David Rehr, a lead researcher on the study with the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. “Entrepreneurs are feeling squeezed by the tight lending environment and want their political leaders to curb the influence of money in politics.”

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