What owners want: Poll reveals top business issues

Raymond Keating
Raymond Keating

Square/Gallup recently published the results of a poll of small business owners measuring their engagement in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Square/Gallup reported that 60 percent of small business owners said they pay “a lot” of attention to the campaign, while another 30 percent said they pay “some” attention. It’s not surprising to see small business owners are engaged, but the
90 percent level is rather striking.

As for their top policy concerns, small business owners were asked which issue presents the greatest challenge to their business operations. The breakdown and the proportions went like this:

  • Taxes — 32 percent.
  • Government regulations — 21 percent.
  • Health care — 20 percent.
  • U.S. trade tariffs — 15 percent.
  • Climate change — 7 percent.
  • Immigration — 5 percent.

These results aren’t surprising, but they are instructive.

Consider, for example, the three issues where government burdens are clear — taxes, government regulations and tariffs (taxes on imports) —  added up to a whopping 68 percent. Another 20 percent of owners said health care was their third top concern, where government regulation and intervention plays a big role in driving up costs and limiting choices.

Also, regarding the 2017 tax relief measure, Square/Gallup reported:
“Sixty-nine percent report that their business benefited from the 2017 tax reform law. More than seven in 10 say they reinvested over one-quarter of the savings that resulted from the tax law in their business.”

While this result isn’t surprising to those who understand entrepreneurship and economics, it does serve as an instructive reminder that tax relief for entrepreneurs will result in an enhanced ability to and incentives for investing in their businesses.

As for the election matchup, while 52 percent of small business owners see their business doing better if President Donald Trump is re-elected and 41 percent if the eventual Democratic nominee were to win, the head-to-head matchups are very close, with the widest margin being only 4 percentage points — with Trump ahead of Bernie Sanders.

It promises to be a long haul to November. But based on these numbers, small business owners will be keeping a close on eye on the campaign.

Raymond Keating is chief economist of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. The nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy, education and research organization works to protect small business and promote entrepreneurship. Reach Keating through the website at https://sbecouncil.org.