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CNBC / SurveyMonkey Finds Partisan Politics Impacting Small Business Outlook
The political views of small business owners appear to have a direct correlation with the outlook they have for their own businesses. This may not come as a big surprise, but it is interesting to see the numbers, nevertheless.
A fourth-quarter 2019 Small Business Confidence Survey from CNBC and SurveyMonkey found that partisan politics are having a significant impact on the outlook of small businesses heading into this election year.
The survey polled 2,000 small business owners from across the country.
"Even when comparing results industry by industry, Republican small business owners are regularly more optimistic than Democrats, indicating that there’s more to this division in sentiment than can be judged by market- or industry-wide conditions," says a report co-written by SurveyMonkey senior research scientist Laura Wronski and chief research officer Jon Cohen. "Small business owners, like everyone else, have a tendency to view the world through a partisan lens."
The Trump administration and the U.K.’s Brexit are two of the most polarizing aspects of modern politics, so it is interesting to see how both Republican and Democratic, and Independent, business owners view the impact of these on their businesses. The survey asked business owners from these different political affiliations about Trump’s impeachment and about Brexit. Here are the response numbers.
As you can see, the differences between Republican responses and Democratic responses are quite vast across the board.
The partisan disparity in small business survey responses is nothing new. When CNBC and SurveyMonkey conducted their survey a year ago, business owners were asked about the potential impact of a government shutdown on their businesses. Democrats were more than three times as likely to say their businesses were affected: 29 percent compared to just 7 percent of Republicans.
As Wronski and Cohen suggest, responses around the impeachment and Brexit may simply be partisan posturing. They point out that in last year’s Q1 survey, some who reported being affected by political happenings couldn’t point to any specific business impact.
35 percent of those who said they were affected did report experiencing slower sales, and 13 percent said they lost a government contract. 14 percent said they were affected because of delayed regulatory approvals, and 10 percent pointed to restricted access to Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.
On the other hand, Wronski and Cohen point out that "many" wrote responses implying "psychological" or "political uncertainty" were simply impacting the way they were running their businesses. They give the example of concern for an employee whose spouse was furloughed and similar types of fears as being influenced by partisanship.
The reality is that small business owners often have to trust their gut, and it’s practically unavoidable that political leanings will creep into the feelings that lead to some business decisions. Ultimately, these feelings will probably play a significant role in how small business owners vote, come election time.
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