Election 2008: Where Do Small Businesses Stand?

How political party affects business owner opinions.


Both parties in this election want to present themselves as the party of small business. But we rarely hear about the opposite perspective—what do small-business owners think about the issues of their political parties? The American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor has compiled a fact sheet based on its survey of small-business owners:

Issues that will have the most influence on your vote in the elections this NovemberDemocraticRepublicanIndependentNo PartyOverallEconomy39%37%43%36%38%Tax policy8%24%14%31%18%Energy policy10%14%12%16%12%Healthcare21%7%8%3%11%Iraq15%5%7%9%9%Immigration2%6%11%4%5%None of the above4%5%4%3%4%Another interesting point from the rest of the results (derived using the data from this survey) is just how much political ideology—more than reality—might impact one's perspective of business challenges. For example, 7 percent of Republican small-business owners say that government regulations are the biggest challenges facing their business—but only 1 percent of Democratic owners do. These businesses are facing the same regulations, but the members of the party that tends to oppose regulation for ideological reasons find them to be much more burdensome than the members of the party that tends to support regulation.

Similarly, 10 percent of Democrats say that financing is their biggest challenge, compared with 6 percent of Republicans.

Independents actually worry about regulations even more than Republicans—9 percent think it's their biggest challenge. Is this because of a significant libertarian contingent?

So maybe ideology is as important as reality in affecting what business owners think is hurting them.

small business
2008 presidential election

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