Swing state small businesses could loom large

October 17, 2012

In a very close presidential election race, small businesses in swing states could decide who wins or loses.

Nearly 50 percent of small business owners in key swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin) favored Republican challenger Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama, according to a survey released last week by Manta, an online small business community.

Despite Romney’s lead among swing state small business owners, Obama was narrowing the gap. The president was the choice for 38 percent of respondents, up six percentage points from a previous Manta survey released in May.

And while they may be leaning towards Romney, 56 percent of swing state voters still believed Obama would win the election.

Greg Garrick, Manta’s vice president of marketing and communications, said the majority of small businesses in these states feel Romney will “be their champion,” but noted that they “don’t believe he has enough power to overcome Obama.”

Garrick said Romney’s candid “47 percent” remark likely hurt his ability to build a bigger lead, adding that his support among small business owners has dipped 6 percent since Manta’s May survey. “It seemed like the public perception about him after his comments were keeping him from gaining any further traction on Obama.”

The latest survey polled 1,854 small business owners across the United States from September 20 to 28. However, it does not account for any momentum swings following this month’s presidential and vice presidential debates.

While Romney got a boost from the first head-to-head debate in Denver, Colorado, Obama regained the momentum after last night’s town hall confrontation in Long Island, New York.

A CNN poll of swing state voters who watched Tuesday’s debate, referenced by the New York Times, showed Obama winning the latest battle by a 53-38 margin. However, a Suffolk University poll, conducted just prior to that debate, showed New Hampshire voters were split 47-47.

A poll by Public Policy Polling showed Colorado voters, who watched the second presidential debate, gave the nod to Obama by a 48-44 edge. But the poll showed ultimately the debate would not factor much into the way Coloradans will vote in next month’s election. Just 37 percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for Obama, against 36 percent who support Romney.

Anne Landman, owner of Grand Junction, Colorado-based small business ThoughtOnBoard, said she remains a staunch Obama supporter, despite having lost her full-time job earlier this year.

Landman, whose company makes dry-erase boards with suction cups on the back to make them adhere to slick surfaces such as windows and refrigerators, said she prefers Obama’s stance on healthcare and women’s rights and admits she doesn’t trust Romney.

“He’s been on every side of every issue so you really don’t know what he stands for,” said Landman, adding most of her Colorado small business colleagues are likely to vote for Romney. “We’re very conservative out here. I live in a development where there are other business owners who are very hard right wing.”

As the battle intensifies for swing state voters, the Romney campaign has upped its ad spending in those states by more than $13 million, according to a CNN report.

“There’s definitely room within these small business owners’ minds to sway them,” said Garrick, noting 23 percent of national small business owners remain undecided. “I think they’re going to come out in mass this November.”


IMAGE: U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama gesture towards each other during the second U.S. presidential debate in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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