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Polling of Small Business Owners

ASBC regularly conducts polling of small business owners nationwide. In recent years polling has covered several policy areas:

Access to Credit

Nine in ten (91%) small business owners support allowing community banks, cooperatives, and credit unions to more actively compete with commercial banks in servicing the financing needs of small business, two-thirds strongly. Support remained very high across party lines, with 87% Democratic (66% strongly), 89% Independent (65% strongly) and 92% Republican (68% strongly) small business owners in favor.  Read the complete polling report.

  • Six in ten (60%) small business owners believe that the problem of “too-big-to-fail” banks taking on excessive credit risks needs more attention from the government. Opinion differed by party with 81% Democratic, 61% Independent and 49% Republican small business owners saying the issue needs more attention.
  • Almost half (45%) of small business owners say that access to sufficient loans and credit at reasonable rates is at least somewhat of a problem. The largest majority was in the Northeast with 53% saying it is a problem. Of Western small business owners, 49% said it was a problem, and 44% Southern and 37% Midwestern small business owners said it was a problem.

CLEAN WATER

Small business owners recognize that clean water is crucial for their companies, and for the economy at large. Clear majorities support strong regulations to protect waterways, particularly a federal proposal currently under consideration. Read the complete polling report in English or Spanish.

  • Most business owners support federal protections of American waterways, with 80% favoring rules protecting upstream headwaters as proposed in the EPA's “Waters of the US” rule. That support crossed political lines: along with 91% of Democrats, 73% of Independents and 78% of Republicans supported that proposal.
  • A strong majority, 71%, said that clean water protections are necessary to ensure economic growth. Only six percent disagreed with that statement. Even when both sides of the argument were presented, about 60% of small business owners supported stronger clean water regulations.
  • Two-thirds of small business owners, 67%, were concerned that water pollution could harm their business in the future.
  • 62% believe that government regulation is needed to prevent water pollution.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Small business owners are concerned about the impact climate change will have on their businesses - in some cases, they have already seen it - and they support federal action to address it by limiting carbon emissions from power plants. Read the complete polling report in English or Spanish

  • Most business owners are concerned about climate change, regardless of whether the issue is characterized as “carbon pollution” or “climate change”. Majorities of business owners said they were concerned about “carbon pollution” (57 percent) and “climate change” (53 percent).
  • More than half of all business owners (53 percent) believe climate change will adversely affect their business. Of that, 19 percent - nearly one in five - say that extreme weather events associated with climate change already have affected their operations.
  • A clear majority, 64 percent, say that government regulation is needed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, compared to 29 percent who want companies to be able to regulate themselves. Even when asked to consider supporting and opposing views together, 50 percent of business owners support limiting emissions from power plants, compared to 28 percent who oppose limits. Meanwhile, 57 percent feel that the biggest emitters, like power plants, should make the most significant cuts in carbon emissions, rather than have all businesses cut emissions equally.
Corporate Tax Reform

Most small business owners oppose exempting offshore taxes from U.S. taxation and would like to see these loopholes closed. Read the complete polling report.

  • More than four out of five small business owners (85%) oppose a territorial tax system, which would permanently exempt offshore profits from U.S. taxation. Across party affiliation, 67% or more are strongly opposed to the proposal.
  •  76% of small business owners support closing overseas tax loopholes by implementing a unitary combined reporting system, which would limit the ability of corporations to avoid taxes by shifting profits offshore. A majority (55%) are strongly supportive.
  •  64% support ending deferral, a provision of current tax code that allows corporations to indefinitely defer payment of U.S. taxes on profits made or shifted offshore. Across parties at least 62% support this idea.
Energy & Environmental Policy reform

Most small business owners across party lines support safer, cleaner, more efficient and renewable energy. They support rules to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and oppose continued subsidies to oil, gas and coal industries. Read the complete polling report.

  • Seventy-two percent of small business owners think incentives for clean energy are a priority. Strong majorities across party lines say incentives to help U.S. companies build a competitive advantage over other countries are a top, high or middle priority, including 81% independent and 58% Republican.
  • Almost eight out of ten small business owners support increasing energy efficiency by 50% over next ten years. Seventy-nine percent of small business owners support a national goal to increase domestic energy efficiency. This finding was sustained across party lines, with 76% Republican and 74% Independent support.
  • Small business owners support EPA efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions of power plants. Sixty-three percent of small business owners support an EPA rule requiring existing power plants to reduce their emissions, including 54% of Republicans and 64% of Independents.
Immigration Reform

Most small business owners support a roadmap to citizenship for current immigrants including those already here. They  prefer a path to citizenship over a program of temporary guest worker visas. Read the complete polling report

  • Two thirds of small business owners support a roadmap to citizenship for current immigrants, with support at two to one or more across party lines: 67% of small business owners support a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants currently living and working in the U.S., while 27% oppose it. Republican small business owners (62% support – 31% oppose), Democratic small business owners (82%-13%), and Independent small business owners (65%-29%) all support a roadmap to citizenship for current immigrants by margins of two to one or more.
  • Small business owners favor a roadmap to citizenship for future immigrants over a temporary worker program with no roadmap to citizenship by a margin of more than two to one: 61% of small business owners think the immigration process for future immigrants should include a roadmap to citizenship, compared to 27% who think it should be a temporary guest worker program with no roadmap to citizenship.

RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE (with Business for a Fair Minimum Wage)

The federal minimum wage was last increased five years ago, in July 2009, to $7.25 an hour. A striking 61% of small business employers nationwide support increasing it to $10.10. This finding is higher than reported in previous small business polling, indicating growing support for the increase. Read the complete poll report, produced with Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.

Small business owners believe a higher minimum wage at the scale proposed would bring several benefits. The poll found:

  • 58% of small business employers say that raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power.
  • 56% of small business employers say raising the minimum wage would help the economy.
  • 53% of small business owners agree that with a higher minimum wage, businesses would benefit from lower employee turnover and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.

Small business owners are less partisan than Congress on the minimum wage. Contrary to common perception, Republican small business owners are evenly split – with 49% against and 49% in favor of increasing the minimum wage and adjusting it to keep up with the cost of living. Not surprisingly, support for raising the federal minimum is stronger among Democratic respondents, with 84% favoring, and independents, with 61% favoring.  Also, small business support for raising the federal minimum wage is strong across all regions of the United States.

Retirement

Small business owners believe that a lack of retirement security hurts business and the overall economy.  Even so, few small business owners offer a retirement plan, with cost being the primary impediment.  Read the complete polling report.

  • Seventy percent of small business owners believe that a lack of retirement security undermines confidence and willingness to spend among older Americans. Sixty-four percent of small business owners believe that lack of retirement security can hurt business and the economy by forcing the current generation of workers to devote time and money to support their aging parents.
  • However, only 33% of small business owners now offer a retirement plan. This finding confirms the lack of employer assistance in retirement security, especially among small businesses.
  • Small business owners perceive cost as the biggest barrier to offering a plan, by a margin of more than 5 to 1. When asked about obstacles to offering a retirement plan, 63% choose “cost,” with 8% choosing “legal and regulatory requirements,” “concern about liability” or “other.” Six percent chose “complexity” as the main hurdle, and 6% “don’t know.”