By Joseph Golder

A national poll surveying small business owners revealed low approval ratings for President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, while governors fared better.

The Alignable’s Political Approval Poll poll was conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 24, during which inflation had just risen to 7.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Small businesses also struggled to keep up with Covid-19-induced policies, the national labor shortage, and a broken supply chain.

Alignable randomly surveyed 7,326 small business owners across the country via telephone calls. The small business owners were asked: “Do you think the following politicians are doing a good job for your small business? Please click approve if you’re happy with their performance or disapprove, if they’re not meeting your expectations.”

Surveyors were asked to answer the questions for varying levels of their elected representatives: President Biden, Vice President Harris, federal senators, federal representatives, “your governor,” and “your local representatives.”

Although the Biden administration has distributed more than $400 billion in relief to 6 million small businesses, Biden received an approval rating of 21 percent among the small business owners surveyed, while Harris received 17 percent approval.

Results from Alingable’s small business poll, categorized by small business sector. (Alignable)
Results from the Alignable poll, categorized by state. (Alignable)

The lowest approval ratings were given to federal senators, who received a 13 percent approval rating, and federal representatives, who received a 14 percent approval rating.

“The whole federal government, according to our small business owners, really isn’t helping them as much as they would like,” said Chuck Castro, head of corporate communications and news at Alignable Research Center.

“Fixing the supply chain was one of the major complaints because inflation rates are really hurting a lot of small businesses, even small businesses that were really rebounding,” said Castro.

The poll revealed trends across business sectors, race, and veteran status.

The nonprofit, law firm, and entertainment sectors had the highest regard for Biden with approval ratings at 41 percent, 45 percent, and 47 percent, respectively. The lowest approval ratings came from workers in the construction industry (12 percent), transportation and manufacturing industries (9 percent), and the printing industry (7 percent).

Biden received a 40 percent approval rating among minority small business owners, while Harris received 35 percent approval.

Veterans were the group most dissatisfied with the president and vice president, with approval ratings of 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

A pie chart showing the political preferences of the poll-takers. (Alignable)

Governors walked away with a 34 percent approval rating, the highest among all levels of the government. The most popular governors were Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) with a 59 percent approval rating, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) with 58 percent approval, and Henry McMaster (R-SC) with 54 percent approval.

The high levels of approval rating signal that small business owners in Florida, Virginia, and South Carolina were appreciative of their governor’s Covid-19-related measures. DeSantis passed a bill barring private employers from firing employees based on Covid-19 vaccination status in November 2021. Youngkin exempted small businesses from paying taxes on Covid-19 relief grants, and McMaster provided immunity to small businesses facing Covid-19-related lawsuits.

“In our state [South Carolina], it seemed like the federal funding that was passed down through the COVID relief programs, it seemed like it was slower than I think a lot of the local towns wanted to see,” said JB Beckett, owner of a small financial services company. “A lot of the small business owners I speak with, they feel like it’s kind of them against the world mentality. And small businesses represent the backbone of our economy, and they have for years, so I think anything we can do to support the small businesses would be fantastic.”

The poll’s party lines may have influenced the positive sentiment towards Republican governors. Thirty-three percent of the small business owners surveyed were registered Republicans, compared to 18 percent who were Democrats. Yet 15 percent identified as Independents, and another 15 percent did not have a party affiliation.

The large percentage of surveyors without a party affiliation may signal a growing discontentment with the two-party system.

“In some cases people have told us that they’re not crazy about the two party system, they don’t know who to trust,” said Castro. “Their [political] representation is directly affecting their livelihoods.”

With the November 2022 midterm elections coming up, politicians will have to gain the vote of the small business owner voting bloc, especially among Independents and unaffiliated voters.

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