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Feb 28, 2020

The America That Isn’t Divided: Small Business Owners

New Lendio research shows that small business owners belong to the same tribe, even if they belong to different political parties.

Americans can’t seem to agree on much today.

Political topics like immigration, healthcare, and national security have always been hot-button flashpoints. However, Americans are now so polarized that even formerly uncontroversial topics are fiercely debated on social media and in social settings.

Issues like the national anthem, our founding fathers, the weather, historical statues, and even who should host the Oscars are all part of the churning storm of political polarization.

But beyond the spreading gulf between Team Red and Team Blue, one team crosses the battle lines to unite even the most bitter of political foes: Team Green—the small business owner chasing down dollars and the American Dream.

Even in polarized times, it seems money talks louder than politics can shout.

New independent research commissioned by Lendio shows that regardless of political party, small businesses owners are surprisingly aligned on the issues that affect their businesses.

In this study of 531 verified small business owners, Lendio looked into what small business owners are worried about, thinking about, and hopeful about.

The study found that America’s small business owners are united in several ways.

Small Business Owners Are Optimistic

Starting a business is an expression of hope, and right now small business owners are surely hopeful.

The survey reveals that 82% of small business owners are optimistic about their business. This includes 74% of small business owners who consider themselves liberal politically, 82% of independent small business owners, and 89% of conservative business owners.

In fact, small business owners are equally optimistic regardless of whether they live in a blue state, red state, or swing state.

And despite some pundits predicting a coming economic reckoning in the form of widespread recession, only 4% of small business owners predict the U.S. will definitely experience a recession in 2020.

Small Business Optimism

Small Business Owners Worry About Taxes

Albert Einstein joked that understanding taxes was too complex for a mathematician and required the expertise of a philosopher. Small business owners share the same frustrations.

According to the study, taxes are the number one burden for small business owners. Taxes are a heavier charge than paying loan interest, managing employee healthcare plans, finding good employees, and even maintaining a work/life balance. Nearly one in three small business owners say what they most need is lower taxes, and 54% of them agree that taxes are having a negative impact on their business.

Small business owners in blue states expressed a heightened concern about taxes, and more of them were considering relocating to a different state. In fact, business owners in blue states are almost 20% more likely than red state owners to say taxes have a negative effect on their business.

Small Business Taxes

Small Business Owners Are Focused on Economic Issues

Many Americans believe that politics has devolved into a froth of wedge issues, culture wars, and political sideshows. But regardless of political affiliation, small business owners are sharply focused on one bread-and-butter issue: The American economy.

According to the research data, the most important political issues to small business owners are all connected to U.S. economic policy: taxes, consumer disposable income, and the impact of federal regulations.

Political issues that are less directly connected to the economy such as climate, fostering new technology, the state of U.S. manufacturing, and healthcare were much less likely to register as top issues for small business owners in this survey.Small Business Political Preference

Small Business Owners Expect the 2020 Election to Impact Business

The 2020 election might bring protestors into the streets, but small businesses unanimously hope it doesn’t keep customers out of their establishments. Both liberal and conservative owners say they will vote for the candidate who will best keep consumer disposable income high.

While small business owners are largely unified when it comes to economic concerns, faultlines emerge when it comes to which presidential candidate is best suited to run the economy. The survey reveals that 43% of small business owners say Donald Trump’s re-election would help their business, while 42% say it wouldn’t. Overall, 44% of small business owners say they are likely to support Mr. Trump in 2020.

Ideology drives that division.

Small Business Owners Donald Trump

A deeper look into the numbers reveals that 77% of conservative small business owners say the re-election of Donald Trump will be beneficial for their business while only 9% of liberal small business owners say it would.

The election looks different as well from different industry vantage points. The industries in which owners say Mr. Trump’s re-election would be a benefit are finance, state/local government, and consumer packaged goods. The industries stating a Trump re-election would not benefit their businesses are media, healthcare, and utilities.

Democratic Nominee Support Small Business

Of those who self-identify as liberal, Michael Bloomberg garners the most support, with 27% of small business owners indicating they plan to vote for him in the election. The next most-supported candidate is Bernie Sanders with 22%, followed by Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden.

About this study
Lendio commissioned an independent market research firm to survey a random sample of 531 double-screened small business owners. The study’s margin of error is +/-4.25% at the 95% confidence level.

About the author

Spencer Anopol
Spencer Anopol
Spencer has spent the last ten years in the throes of all things marketing and communications. In the past, he has written for companies and clients spanning restaurants to SAAS companies, and entertainment guilds to yoga studios. Spencer has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Utah. When not writing or working, he can be found in the mountains on a hike, in a movie theater with a tub of popcorn, or on stage at a local theater.

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