With only a few weeks before the election, candidates are running like Usain Bolt to the November 4 finish. Campaigns are focusing on their messages to various constituencies as they try to lure voters to their side.
One key constituency that can’t be forgotten is America’s entrepreneurs. After all, the research shows that 95 percent of small business owners are registered to vote, and 84 percent usually do vote. With the advent of early voting in many states, this number may well increase, as it makes it easier for busy owners to vote when it’s convenient, not just when the polls are open.
The small business community, which includes entrepreneurs and their employees, comprise 43 percent of U.S. registered voters. On the largest single day of voting held so far this year, Super Tuesday, nearly 32 percent of voters were part of this group. These numbers prove that small business is a powerful, motivated group. And they want candidates to address the issues that matter to them.
First and foremost, that issue is healthcare, a crisis in this country that has not gotten better; it continues to get worse. We must address the issue of cost, which directly correlates to coverage. If costs are under control, more small businesses will be able to afford to offer coverage to the more than 26 million owners, employees and dependents who currently lack health insurance.
While it’s been encouraging to see the candidates discuss the issues facing small business, including healthcare, they—and all of our country’s leaders—must realize that entrepreneurs deserve more than just plans and proposals. Because, as the numbers above demonstrate, these job creators, those on the front lines of the healthcare crisis, are the voters who will be electing the next president. They’re demanding the next administration and Congress implement real change that makes healthcare more affordable for working Americans.
According to a recent survey, nearly three-quarters say fixing healthcare should be a top priority for the next president, and nearly 80 percent agree that “it is important to me to vote for a presidential candidate whose healthcare plan makes sense for small business.” Right now, 81 percent of small business owners and 52 percent of employees don’t feel the presidential candidates are adequately addressing the healthcare issue.
The other issue that small business owners care most about is taxes. They want a simpler, fairer tax code, because the large amount of money that small businesses pay to accountants and others for tax and other financial planning assistance can’t be invested back into the business.
The vast majority of small businesses file as individuals paying marginal, not corporate tax rates, and these entrepreneurs can’t be forgotten in any discussion of tax reform. Small business owners still account for most of the net jobs created and the wrong tax policy could stifle job creation and economic growth.
So while candidates are busy delivering their messages, small business owners would like to send a message back to them: Speak to us specifically about how you will help us on these two critical issues, and you will likely win our votes.