Talent Management

Five Reasons Small Business Takes Center Stage In 2012 Presidential Election

smallbusinesscenterstageConduct a simple Google News search and compare results for “Small Business 2012 Presidential Election” with the same search for 2008.  You’ll discover data that confirm what you already know: Small business and small business issues are exponentially more prevalent in this presidential contest than they were in 2008.   In fact, it’s hard for me to recall a time, certainly in my lifetime, when small business has been more center stage or when small business issues and America’s issues were as inextricably aligned as they have been throughout this election season.

Small business issues are America’s issues, and the shift we have been witnessing during this election will likely be with us for many more to come.  Here are five reasons why:

  1. Small Business/Big Reach – With roughly 28 million U.S. small business owners, who lead companies responsible for hiring nearly three out of every four new employees, America and small business are conjoined.   Factor in the families, employees and communities directly affected by small business, and it’s a powerful extended constituency.
  2. Small Business Owners Vote – In a survey conducted by the NSBA, 97% of small business owners say they regularly vote in national elections and nearly 70% contribute to political campaigns.  Compare that to presidential election voter turnout that hasn’t eclipsed 60% since the 1960s.  Small business owners have a big voice and a big vote.
  3. Small Business CEOs are Pragmatists not Ideologues – Time and time again, in our Vistage CEO Confidence Index surveys, which we’ve been conducting for more than a decade, these CEOs have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not vote a straight party ticket.   These business owners and leaders support solutions and ideas more than they line up behinds parties or specific candidates.  Party affiliations tend to mean much less among this group and do not typically reflect whom they will support or who they feel will prevail in the election.   Understanding this, candidates believe they can get a fair hearing by this group, and will spend the time and the money to prove that their solutions are best for the country.
  4. They are Aligned in Their Belief Washington is Broken – In the Q1 2012 Vistage CEO Confidence Index, 98% of Vistage members stated there was a lack of leadership in Washington, blaming the President, the Congress and both political parties for the gridlock that was plaguing the country.  Small businesses owners will likely take the political capital they’ve earned, regardless of which party is in power, to get Washington working again – only further increasing its influence.
  5. Small Business will Shape our Nation’s Agenda into the Foreseeable Future.   In the October 2012 WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey, CEOs leading companies of $1 million to $20 million in annual revenue, a subset of our Vistage membership, were asked to identify the most important issues in this presidential election based on the gap in the stated approaches of each candidate.    By far, healthcare reform and how each candidate will direct the economy were the biggest issues.   These are also wedge issues for most Americans in this presidential campaign.  When you consider the collective impact of reasons 1-3, don’t be surprised to see this kind of alignment in elections to come.

Today, small business is the undisputed backbone of this country and, in the coming years, America will stand taller because of it.  The values, work ethic, and innovative spirit that have built this nation are personified in its leaders and employees.   Regardless of who prevails next week,  small business leaders will be there to assure that America wins.

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About the Author: Leo Bottary

Leo J. Bottary is an adjunct professor for two of Seton Hall University's graduate level programs in strategic communication and leadership.  Leo has enjoyed a 25-year career counseling leaders in the areas of strategic comm…

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  1. Whatever happens one huge benefit of this election has been re-focusing our government on the subjects that matter. LIKE GROWING THE ECONOMY.

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