As the presidential campaign continues, a new poll suggests that the Romney campaign should not assume small business owners are monolithic in their support for the campaign.
The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at George Washington University and Thumbtack.com conducted a survey on how small business view the upcoming election. Over 6,000 small business owners nationwide participated in the survey. The top line results include:
Among swing states, New Hampshire voters were the most concerned about the economy and jobs, Wisconsin voters were disproportionately concerned about government corruption, and Iowans and Nevadans rated health care policy as their top economic concern more frequently than did small businesses in any other swing state.
Florida and Michigan small business owners were more concerned about the economy and jobs than those in any other large states.
Here are five Implications for the Romney/Ryan campaign:
1. You need a more concise message to America's entrepreneurs. Earlier in the year, the campaign released a 59-page plan with 72 ideas to jump start the economy. While thorough, the campaign must now focus on two or three central ideas that will create jobs. Focus is the most important issue until ballots are cast on election day. If the Romney campaign does not carry the small business community, President Obama will be re-elected.
2. Discussion of taxes and the deficit don't appear to move independent small business owners into your camp. While the Republican 'faithful' are anxious to hear about keeping taxes low and reducing the deficit, small business owners tell us that the central issue continues to be job creation and growth. Focusing on lower taxes and the deficit are not high priorities for them.
3. Relying on people knowing President Obama's record on small business gives the president an 'edge' on election day. Thirty-four percent of self-described Independent small business owners believe President Obama is more supportive of small business. Twenty-seven percent believe Governor Romney is more supportive. Thirty-nine percent are not sure who is more supportive. The Romney campaign must ensure their communication on the president's record is understood and gets through all the political clutter.
4. Send more time with entrepreneurs, less time with staged events which have less believability. While not surveyed in this study, small business people see right through the controlled crowds and campaign staff prepared statements and questions. Small business owners want authenticity and passion. I would suggest cancelling the planned media events which offer little and emphasize real conversations with and around small business operations. Have more listening and less speech making.
5. Talk about your specific, concise small business agenda during your economic debate with the president. The upcoming debate gives Governor Romney a chance to leverage his business experience and communicate real-life private sector work during the economic debate with the president. Talk straight to small business and you talk straight to America.
The full results can be seen here thumbtack.com/politics and include interactive data visualizations, dozens of quotes from small business owners nationwide, and demographic-by-demographic comparisons. The full methodology and analysis paper can also be found there.