When it comes to the influence of different entities on the tax initiatives debate, small business topped a recent poll by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The poll was conducted online. Those responding to the poll listed small business as the greatest influence in the tax debate, at 56%, the only group that received more than 50%.

Governor Jerry Brown’s influence on the tax initiatives was checked by 42%. Forty-four percent said the governor’s opinion would not influence their vote.

Local business owners also scored relatively high in the poll’s findings. Forty-seven percent said local business owners would influence their vote. Forty-eight percent said teachers would influence their vote while 45% said the same of the California Teachers Association.

Dan Schnur, head of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said if small business and teachers line up on opposite sides of a tax initiative they would be the strongest voices for and against any tax measure.

It was not determined whether the “influence” offered by the groups on the individual voters was positive or negative. In other words, if one group was for a measure, a voter might be influenced to vote against that measure. However, those involved with the poll assumed the influence in this case was positive.

Other “influence” groups were public employees at 38%, unions at 34%, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association at 33% and the California Chamber of Commerce at 31%.

The validity of the poll faced questions because it is admittedly experimental using an online survey. However, the poll results on a wide range of issues tracked closely to results from a telephone poll released earlier by USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times.

The poll managed by M4 Strategies and Tulchin Research was conducted from March 19-21 with 1,874 self-identified registered voters.

Pollsters believe that online surveys are the next step in testing voter attitudes because of the rise of the internet and reduction in wired telephones and changing telephone use habits. Online surveys allow for additional questions to be asked and allow the responder to finish a poll in shorter time.

CalBuzz discusses  some uncertainties involved in the online poll, while USC’s Schnur predicted, “The future of public opinion polling is over the internet.”

As for small business, the results of the poll were important. Small business has never been able to keep up with big business or labor unions on the financial side of political campaigns but these poll results show there is another way to influence politics if small business is unified and is able to deliver its message.

You can see poll results here.