SOURCE: MerchantCircle, a Reply! Inc. property

MerchantCircle, a Reply! Inc. property

July 02, 2012 09:00 ET

New MerchantCircle Survey Reveals More Than 60 Percent of Business Owners Do Not Believe the Worst Effects of the Recession Are Behind Us

Social Media Is 3 Times More Effective Than TV for Political Campaigns and Over 50% of Respondents Follow Political Candidates on Facebook

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 2, 2012) - today released findings from a survey of over 6,000 small business owners across the U.S. to assess political sentiment and likely voting preferences in the run-up to the November 2012 elections. The data shows that economic concerns continue to weigh heavily on small businesses, with the economy rated as the #1 issue facing the country today. The survey also revealed that a sizable percentage of small business owners are still undecided in their November voting preference.

Key findings include:

1. Republicans have been most effective at positioning the party as supportive of small business interests.

The data shows that while all parties have had success over the past two years aligning themselves with the interests of small businesses, Republicans have been most effective in these efforts. Nearly 40 percent of respondents now say that Republicans are most supportive of small business interests, up from just 23 percent in October 2010. Just 25 percent said Democrats are most supportive (up slightly from 23 percent in October 2010), and 16 percent say that the Tea Party is most supportive (flat from October 2010). In general, all three parties have been effective at courting this audience: the number of small businesses who say they're unsure of which party is most supportive of their interests has dropped to just 16 percent (down from 37 percent in October 2010).

2. Small business owners are increasingly pessimistic about the economy.

Economic concerns continue to be widespread among small business owners, with 60 percent of respondents saying the economy is one of the top issues facing the country today, and 41 percent saying that jobs are a top issue. This represents a significant decrease in optimism in the economic turnaround over the past year, with 61 percent saying that they do not believe the worst effects of the recession are behind us -- a stark increase from January 2011, when just 41 percent said they believed the worst effects were not behind us.

3. Fifteen percent of small business owners are still undecided in their November voting preference.

While most small business owners say that they know which party they will support in November, there is still a sizable number of small business votes up for grabs, with 15 percent of respondents saying they are still unsure of whom they will support in the upcoming elections. These undecided voters are also much less certain about which political party is most supportive of small business interests, with 46 percent saying they're unsure which party best supports their interests (as compared to just 9 percent of the voters whose voting preference is already decided).

4. Small businesses are most receptive to political messages delivered via social media.

With 15 percent of the small business vote up for grabs, candidates should be focusing on ways to reach this audience, but the data shows that reaching them via traditional methods such as TV commercials may pose a challenge.

According to the data, TV ads are seen as the least informative marketing method, with just 7 percent finding these to be informative, while 60 percent say they find these ads annoying and 40 percent saying they tune them out. Direct mail political fliers and materials fare only marginally better: 15 percent of respondents say they find these materials informative, while 36 percent tune them out and 54 percent find them annoying.

Social media may be a better bet for candidates looking to reach this audience: the survey shows that 50 percent of small business owners follow political candidates or related organizations on Facebook and 14 percent follow these groups on Twitter. Small business owners are also much more receptive to political tweets and posts via social media than TV ads or direct mail, with 23 percent of respondents saying they find political tweets and posts to be informative. This would indicate that social media may be three-times as effective as TV for political campaigns that are trying to target small business owners.

Results of this survey do not necessarily represent views of Reply! Inc. or its team.

With over 1.2 million member merchants, is the largest online network of its kind in the nation. With, local business owners gain access to marketing tools to boost their online visibility and find customers. When online reviews aren't enough, consumers rely on to find the best merchants and deals, get expert advice and secure competitive quotes on local goods and services. In June 2011, was acquired by Reply! Inc., the leading marketplace for the acquisition of locally-targeted and category-specific consumer traffic.

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