Presidential candidates have chance to sway small business owners

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Small business owners want to hear specific plans from presidential candidates on how small business needs will be addressed in the near future, according to a Manta survey of small businesses.

In the survey, 40 percent of the nearly 2,000 small business owners surveyed said their vote will likely be influenced by how the needs of small businesses are addressed by the candidates during the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions.

That is just mind boggling, said Greg Garrick, Manta vice president of marketing and communications. Manta is an online site that connects companies and provides business profiles.

“There is a big opportunity in the upcoming conventions to get small business owners to change their mind,” Garrick said.

Manta issues quarterly wellness surveys of small business. Since January, the surveys took on a more political bent with the idea that small businesses created 65 percent of all net jobs in the past 17 years. And, in January, President Obama promoted the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration to a cabinet-level position. It all points to the idea that small business voices are important, Garrick said.

“Presidential candidates who want to come off as the prince of the convention will want to address small business needs, Garrick said.

In a January Manta survey, 54 percent of small business owners said they were dissatisfied with this year’s presidential candidates — nearly one in five, or 20 percent, said they were very dissatisfied. In September, small business owners weren’t optimistic about the economic outlook, but data showed a 27 percent increase in new business activity in the second quarter of 2011 versus the same quarter of the previous year.

In May, a Manta survey revealed that small business owners in key swing states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – were leaning Republican. More than half, 57 percent, of small business owners responding to the survey said they planned to vote for Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or whomever is selected as the GOP candidate. Thirty-two percent said they would back President Obama.

Today, the latest Manta survey,  61 percent of survey respondents said they plan to vote for Romney. The selection of U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan as Republican vice presidential candidate didn’t impact the small business owners’ decision. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they plan to vote for President Obama – down 6 percent since May.

Small business owners said they want to hear specifics on how the candidates will address small business needs, including issues on health care, government regulation and access to capital. About 42 percent of small business respondents said they think small businesses have the power to influence and determine the outcome of the 2012 election.

“While it is critical that the presidential candidates address vital small business issues like tax policy and healthcare at the conventions this year, it’s also important that they share concrete examples with the small business community about how proposed initiatives will help them grow their business the rest of year and in the future,” said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta. “With a shaky economy, small businesses are trying to catch up and rely on non-governmental resources to stay in business.”

The survey findings are part of a series of Manta political tracking polls that offer an ongoing assessment of small business owners’ opinions on candidates and topics related to the upcoming presidential election. Manta’s latest survey polled 1,942 small business owners.