SOURCE: Alignable, Inc.

Alignable, Inc.

February 23, 2016 08:00 ET

New Political Survey Reveals Views of Small Businesses

SMBs Divided on Candidates and Issues; 81% Feel Politicians Don't Get Them

WALTHAM, MA--(Marketwired - Feb 23, 2016) - A new political survey from Alignable, the social network for small business owners, reveals that we are a nation divided. In fact, a whopping four out of five small business owners believe that politicians do not understand them, and are deeply divided on specific candidates and issues, like gun control.

The survey provides insight into small business owners' opinions on hot-button issues and presidential candidates. Alignable is the new town hall -- it's a community with business owners in all fifty states and more than 7,000 communities, sharing information, debating issues, and voicing key political and business concerns.

Together We Stand, Divided We Vote
Small businesses are overwhelmingly united in their skepticism of politicians, with 81% indicating that politicians don't understand them. However, their views vary on who they think would be best for their business as president. Among the front-running candidates, 29% chose Donald Trump, 23% gave the nod to Bernie Sanders and 19% chose Hillary Clinton as the number one candidate. Ben Carson and Marco Rubio were ranked the least likely to help small businesses (4%) as was Jeb Bush, who just dropped out of the race. In addition, interestingly, Carly Fiorina, who also dropped out of the race, ranked higher at eight percent, as did Ted Cruz.

Fear me, Fear me Not?
While Donald Trump's business credentials appealed to many, 38% selected him as the most feared candidate for their business, compared to 29% for Hillary Clinton, followed by Bernie Sanders (18%) and Ted Cruz (15%). Trump, clearly the most polarizing candidate, is considered the most helpful to small businesses, and also the most feared. To paraphrase Machiavelli, is it better to be loved than feared, or feared than loved? Trump has both covered.

"Each candidate is trying to appeal to small businesses, promising everything from simplifying tax filings to decreasing regulation. Yet, the data is clear: there is no definitive front-runner and there is no one- size-fits-all candidate," said Eric Groves, CEO of Alignable. "To appeal to small businesses, candidates need to convey that they understand the issues business owners face on a daily basis and are willing to act to drive positive change. Small businesses will be watching closely and will be voting accordingly -- and not necessarily along party lines."

Agreement on Immigration Reform, Differ on Solutions 
Half (50%) of small and medium business owners would support a path to legal status for unauthorized immigrants. Evenly matched in support were build a U.S. - Mexico border fence (36%), a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants (35%), and make e-Verify mandatory for immigrants (35%) indicating support for these reform measures. Thirty-three percent (33%) would support President Obama's Deferred Action Orders, perhaps signifying the strong emphasis that small businesses place on family.

It's Complicated: Minimum Wage and Small Business
The race is still open with respect to minimum wage, according to small business owners. On the one hand, more than half (56%) of small business owners support a minimum wage increase. On the other hand, 38% say it should stay the same.

Second Amendment: It's Had a Good Gun Run
One thing small business owners do agree on is gun control, specifically regarding an overhaul of the second amendment. A majority support expanding background checks to include gun sales made online (72%) and at gun shows (70%). Seventy-one percent (71%) are in favor or prohibiting suspected terrorist from purchasing guns and 47% support the complete ban of assault rifles.

When it comes to open carry though, there is a 50/50 split on this issue with half permitting and half banning the carrying of guns by patrons in their businesses.

Bears, Bulls and Small Business Sentiment
Rising healthcare costs (45%) and taxes (43%) are the top two issues small businesses are most concerned about with respect to hurting their business over the next year. Yet only one in five (19%) listed stock market instability as a business pain point for the next year. Despite recent stock market dips, small businesses aren't panicking quite yet -- only 12% are extremely concerned, 62% are moderately or a little concerned and 21% aren't concerned at all.

Blood Pressures Rising With Anxiety over Health Care Premiums
The Affordable Care Act is taking a beating in the political election with Republicans, but 29% of small businesses fully support it. However, about half (49%) are worried about rising premium costs in 2016. A mere 11% are concerned about new compliance requirements.

Right to Bear Arms in Public
In Texas and other states, handguns in holsters are becoming a familiar site, but 44% of small business owners do not support states passing open carry laws. Thirty-six percent (36%) were in favor and 20% were indifferent.

No or Yo Quiero Donald Trump?
If Donald Trump wins the presidency, 27% are making like the Taco Bell Chihuahua and running for the border, while 28% expect big changes that will have a positive impact on their profitability. From the playbook of losing gracefully, 20% will not give Trump their vote but would respect his leadership.

About the Alignable Small Business Political Survey
Alignable commissioned Survey Monkey to conduct an online poll of 438 small business owners across the United States between January 26 and February 10, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 5 percentage points. An infographic of the survey results can be found here.

About Alignable
Alignable is the free social network for small business owners. Using Alignable's platform, small business owners connect with others nearby, within their industries, and across North America based on their interests. More than 7,000 communities across North America are using Alignable to build business networks to grow their businesses and succeed. Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, Alignable is a privately held company with the backing of prominent investors in small business, networking and data, including Mayfield, Saturn Partners, NextView Ventures, Boston Seed, CrunchFund, Kensington and Lead Edge Capital.

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