Small business owners aiming to unseat incumbents in midterms, poll shows

No major political party seen as the small-business party


Small business owners are less than pleased with the broken system in Washington, and many are apparently looking to elect new lawmakers. (iStockphoto/Washington Post Illustration)

Most small business owners, like so many other Americans, are less than pleased with the way their lawmakers have been representing them in Washington — and that could make reelection all the more difficult for some incumbents this fall.

Roughly four in five small business owners in states with elections coming up in November say they plan to vote, and among them, four in five are planning to cast their ballot for a challenger, according to a poll released Tuesday by online small business directory Manta.

That’s a large share, certainly, but not an altogether surprising one. A similar poll by the National Small Business Association earlier this summer showed that only 7 percent of small employers approved of the job their representatives were doing in Congress.

“It’s important for politicians to hear their voice and focus on issues relevant to this community,” John Swanciger, Manta’s chief executive, said in the company’s report.

So, what issues are those?

Not surprisingly, a third of the respondents said the economy still represents the country’s greatest challenge, more than any other issue presented in the survey. Manta polled more than 1,500 owners and reported a margin of error of just below 3 percent.

Conversely, health care, which has been one of the most controversial political issues for small firms in recent years, has fallen to fourth on that list, now behind immigration issues and income inequality.

On another increasingly important issue for employers, a potential bump in the federal minimum wage, small business owners are divided, with 42 percent saying they would vote for a candidate who supported a wage hike and 38 percent saying they would not.

The results align with another report released by small-business payroll services provider Paychex on Tuesday, in which its regulatory and compliance team, citing conversations with clients, identified the health care law, immigration reform and employment rules as the top three issues on the minds of small business owners this election season.

Manta also asked which political party small business owners think can be trusted to support their interests in Congress? Increasingly, a choice of “none of them” is gaining steam, with 26 percent responding that no political party represents the small-business party, nearly double the number who said the same thing leading up to the elections in 2012.

Republicans still hold the edge over Democrats, with 32 percent saying the GOP is Main Street’s greatest ally in Washington compared to 19 percent siding with Democrats and 12 percent for the Tea Party.

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

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