Survey: How small business owners are voting in 2020

While Joe Biden appears to be holding a significant lead in most nationwide surveys, Donald Trump holds a narrow edge among small business owners. That’s according to a brand new survey we conducted among small business owners across the United States.

A significant portion of those we surveyed are still undecided, however, suggesting this demographic (who, in 2016, favored Trump by significant margins), is up for grabs this year.

2020 has been a tumultuous year for small businesses across the United States, and there’s little question that small business owners will have a lot on their mind as they head to the polls (or mail in their ballots) next month. In this article, we will be digging deeper into the results of our survey to see how small business owners are thinking about this year’s election.

But first, we’ll start at the top of the ticket.

Among small business owners, presidential race is a toss-up

36% of small business owners we surveyed said they’re going to vote for Donald Trump, while 34% support Joe Biden. Nearly 20% of our respondents are still undecided, while 2% are going third party, and 8% say they’re sitting this year’s election out.

As we mentioned at the top of this article, small business owners are typically a right-leaning demographic, but this year has been anything but typical for small businesses.

Small business owners trust Trump on the economy, but not COVID-19

44% of small business owners disapprove of how the President has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to only 36% who approve. Meanwhile, 47% of small business owners still approve of the President’s handling of the economy.

We observed the same split when we asked small business owners who they trusted to handle COVID-19 and who they trusted to handle the economy:

Joe Biden holds a slight edge over small business owners when asked who they trust more to handle COVID-19, while most small business owners still favor the President when it comes to handling the economy.

This discrepancy is even stronger when looking only at undecided voters:

A clear majority of undecided voters in our survey trust Joe Biden more in handling COVID-19, but trust Donald Trump more when it comes to the economy. Which of these factors will ultimately tip the scales for the small business owners on election day is anyone’s guess.

Small businesses hurt most by COVID-19 are more likely to support Joe Biden than businesses unharmed by the pandemic

Small and local businesses have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. Our research has shown spending has dropped significantly in multiple industries, and many businesses have ended up shutting their doors for good.

Some industries, like sporting goods stores and grocery stores, have actually seen sales increase this year. And, of course, not every part of the country has been hit the same. So we wanted to see if business owners who were hit hardest by COVID-19 are planning on voting any differently than those who weren’t.

We started by asking the business owners in our survey how COVID-19 affected their revenue.

The clear majority of businesses in our survey say that their revenue is down as a result of COVID-19, with most of those saying revenue was down significantly.

Next, let’s see how these groups are planning on voting this election.

Business owners whose revenue is down significantly due to COVID-19 support Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a 38% to 32% margin. Businesses whose revenue was down somewhat support Trump over Biden 39% to 30%, while the businesses who haven’t seen a negative impact due to COVID-19 overwhelmingly support re-electing the President.

Trump voters three times more likely than Biden voters to believe business will “return to normal” before the end of 2020

We asked small business owners when they expect things to “return to normal” for their business, and the results were rather interesting, especially when comparing Trump and Biden voters.

The largest portion of both groups of voters believe things will return to normal in Q2 of next year, but on the whole, Trump voters were far more optimistic.

61% of Trump voters believe business will return to normal before the end of next June, compared to 40% of Biden voters. Trump voters were also far more likely to believe things will return to normal before the end of this year.

Most business owners require mask-wearing, but those who don’t require masks overwhelmingly support Trump

Masks have become a hot-button topic in many parts of the country, and small and local businesses have been on the front lines of this issue from the beginning. Despite the controversy and the headlines, however, over 80% of respondents in our survey require masks in their business:

It probably won’t come as a surprise to discover that these two groups look very different in how they plan on voting this November.

Business owners that don’t require masks overwhelmingly support President Trump, who has gone so far as to publicly ridicule his opponent for frequently wearing a mask.

Former Vice President Biden, meanwhile, enjoys a slight edge in support from respondents who require masks inside their place of business.

How the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fits into this year’s election

Small and local businesses were a huge part of the massive economic stimulus package passed by congress earlier this year. Millions of small businesses applied for and received PPP money, and we wanted to know how this may or may not influence their vote in November.

First, here’s how many of the businesses in our survey applied for, and received, funds via the Paycheck Protection Program.

Most of the businesses we surveyed applied for funds via the PPP. Of those who applied, three-quarters of them received their money.

Now let’s examine these groups and see who they plan on voting for in November.

Businesses who received PPP money are evenly split between Trump and Biden. Those who didn’t apply at all, meanwhile, prefer Trump to Biden by a wide margin. The President fared poorest, by far, among those who applied for funds and did not receive them.

Among voters who didn’t get their PPP funds, there are more undecided on who to vote for than there are those who support the President.

Trump voters are 5 times more likely than Biden voters to say protests and civil unrest are the greatest concern for their business

Small businesses have faced challenges on multiple fronts this year. 2020 has brought the COVID-19 pandemic, large-scale protests and civil unrest, wildfires, hurricanes, and more.

We asked the small business owners in our survey what’s the most concerning for them and their business this year, and here’s what they had to say:

Nearly three-quarters of small business owners we surveyed said that COVID-19 was the most concerning thing facing them and their business. 18% said protests and civil unrest were the most concerning, while only 3% singled out wildfires and other natural disasters as their greatest concern.

Next, we compared Trump, Biden, and undecided voters to see what was most concerning to each of them.

All three groups were most likely to say that COVID-19 was their greatest concern. Trump supporters were far more likely than undecided voters, or particularly Biden voters, to select protests and civil unrest, however. This seems to be yet another indicator that business owners who feel the most impacted by COVID-19 were the least likely to support Donald Trump’s reelection.

COVID-19 is sure to have a major impact on how small business owners across the country will be voting for President in 2020. Stay tuned for more insight and findings from the Womply research team as we continue to dive deeper into our data between now and November.

Methodology: Womply polled 894 small business owners in all 50 states via an online survey between 10/1 and 10/12

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