Obama tops Romney in new poll of small business owners


Small business owners who consider themselves independent give the edge to the president’s economic policies, according to a new survey. (Steve Helber/AP)
September 19, 2012

President Obama’s controversial “you didn’t build that” remark wasn’t enough to break the trust he has built with many voters on Main Street.

Nearly half of small business owners (47 percent) plan to vote for a second term for the president, compared to 39 percent who plan to vote for Mitt Romney, according to a new poll conducted by the George Washington University School of Political Management and Thumbtack.com. Even more importantly, perhaps, the president is perceived as more supportive of small companies by the most coveted group of voters — independents.

Researchers polled more than 6,000 small business owners, and the group of respondents closely mirrored the overall population in terms of gender, business size and business age. Responses were collected in the weeks following the president’s now infamous “you didn’t build that” comment but before it was used as a central theme of the Republican National Convention.

This latest poll stands in stark contrast to a similar one released a month ago by Manta, which showed Romney holding a comfortable lead over Obama among voters on Main Street.

By a landslide, the economy and job creation remain the most important variables for small business owners (cited by 40 percent of voters), followed by ethics, honesty and government corruption (13 percent). Emphasis on the econonmy was even stronger among respondents located in swing states.

“Small businesses are deeply attuned to the effect of politics on job creation and the economy,” David Rehr, one of the researchers from GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management, said in a statement. “Entrepreneurs are feeling squeezed by the tight lending environment and want their political leaders to curb the influence of money in politics.”

Health care reform, deficit reduction and tax policy, on the other hand, were each cited by only a small number of respondents as the most critical issue for small businesses. Nevertheless, the likely impact of proposed tax changes on small businesses has been a major point of contention for both candidates on the campaign trail as the election heads into the final weeks.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

Which candidate do you think more strongly and consistently supports the needs of small businesses? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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