C I Host today released of one of the largest presidential polls ever conducted among small- to medium-sized business owners, indicating that Republican incumbent George W. Bush enjoys a commanding lead over Democratic candidate John Kerry prior to Tuesday’s election. The poll tallies the opinions of 27,593 U.S. respondents who participated in an e-mail questionnaire distributed to C I Host clients throughout the country. An additional 4,823 international respondents participated.
Significantly, the U.S. survey found 49 percent of business owners plan to vote for Bush, while 45 percent named Kerry. Although Bush reportedly is in the lead, the poll did show evidence of the "swing vote" crossing beyond party affiliations, as 58 percent of respondents said they were Republicans, and 41 percent Democrats.
When asked to rank deciding factors, 52 percent of all business owners ranked health care number one. On health care, 61 percent said they offered employees a health care plan 24 months ago. Only 42 percent offer a company- wide health plan today. The economy/jobs was the second most important issue, with 39 percent. Only 7 percent cited the war in Iraq. It is interesting to note that of those who support Bush, a majority of respondents said they support the candidate for business savings based on tax cuts. Of those supporting Kerry, healthcare was listed as the number one reason.
Christopher Faulkner, CEO of C I Host, said, "This survey reflects a unified voice among the small businesses who are the backbone of the American economy. Their vote indicates they are prospering in the current climate, and the majority wish to continue the gradual recovery of the last twelve months. It will be interesting to see how these numbers compare with the general electorate."
The poll was sent to 125,000 U.S. customers of C I Host. Results are based on respondents who completed the survey before a Saturday deadline. The majority of the businesses represented, 42 percent, said they range from 6 to 10 employees. The American Small Business Administration estimates, that 79 percent of businesses are comprised of 10 or fewer employees, and these small businesses employee a higher percentage of workers under the age of 25 as well as more employees over the age of 65.
Of those "closely following the race," 79 percent stated that the Internet was their preferred source of campaign news.
"It comes as no surprise that these businesses — all with an Internet presence — rely on the Web for their news," Faulkner said. "Additional, it is important to note that without the Internet this magnitude of survey could not be conducted as efficiently as we have done within our customer base, which totals 210,000 clients around the world."
Internationally — perhaps no surprise — 68 percent of non-American respondents said hypothetically they would vote for Kerry, while 32 percent would choose Bush. It is also significant that of the 30,000 international businesses polled, only 16 percent responded. Sixty-four percent said they are following the race closely; and 72 percent do not support the decision to wage war with Iraq.
"Perhaps that supports the adage that you tend to hear from the naysayers," Faulkner said. "Complacency seems to be the biggest fear among both camps, as candidates stumped to get out the vote throughout the weekend."
Repeating the trend of most political trackers, the C I Host study found that 93 percent of business owners are following the campaigns closely, and 94 percent said they will vote in this election. Forty percent said Bush best represents small business owners interests, while 31 percent said Kerry.
Lastly, 89 percent of respondents said they would not disclose their political affiliation on a business Web site.
For a copy of the complete survey, including general comments about the election, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org