- Over half of small business owners surveyed feel positively about the economy.
- Only 13 percent of small business owners surveyed believe their business benefited from the national tax reform legislation passed in 2017.
- More than eight in ten small business owners surveyed express concerns about health care affordability while 64% support keeping the ACA in place.
As millions of Americans head to the polls over the next two weeks, we asked over 1,600 small business owners across the country how they are feeling about key issues that may impact their vote.
Positive Economic Sentiment
Small business owners feel positively about the state of the economy, with 12% saying that the current economy is in “excellent” condition and another 43% calling it “good,” while only 9% call it “poor.”
But while small business owners are feeling fairly positively about the economy, they’re not particularly satisfied with President Trump nor with Congress. As of October, only 47% approve of how the President is handling the economy, with 37% approving of Congressional Republicans and only 27% approve of Congressional Democrats on the economy.
Skeptical of Tax Reform
Contributing to the lack of strong approval rates across the board is a lack of enthusiasm for the 2017 tax reform bill. When we surveyed small business owners on this issue, only 13% said that they or their business have financially benefited from the tax reform bill Congress passed in 2017. Similarly, our respondents were almost twice as likely to say that the tariffs recently implemented by the administration would have a negative impact on their business (1-in-4 said this) than a positive one (only 1-in-8), though most did say they don’t anticipate a meaningful impact either way.
Ongoing Health Care Concerns
This year, health care is an increasingly important issue to small business voters, nearly tied with the economy as their number one political issue.
These numbers are being driven by widespread dissatisfaction of both President Trump and Congressional Republicans and Democrats when it comes to health care. Two thirds of small business owners reported disapproving of how leaders are currently handling health care policy.
One of the main factors driving disapproval is the rising costs of health care premiums and prescription drug prices. Among small business owners, 42% say they expect their health care costs to rise this year and 86% say that they’re “somewhat” or “very concerned” about health care affordability. Another 78% say they’re concerned about prescription drug costs. This also isn’t just a personal concern: 77% note they’re concerned about what the country as a whole spends on health care.
While small business owners are concerned about rising costs, they overwhelmingly support keeping the Affordable Care Act in place. 64% say they support keeping the ACA in place and 14% say it directly helped them make the jump to becoming self-employed. Further, individual provisions of the ACA are even more popular than the overall bill, with large majorities of small business owners supporting many of its most well-known provisions:
- 77 percent support the expansion of Medicaid
- 69 percent support the rules that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions
- 80 percent support making subsidies for health insurance available to low-income Americans
- 81 percent support allowing adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan
Further, small business owners indicated that they would hold politicians accountable for their actions on health care with twice as many respondents (38%) saying they would be less likely to support a candidate who joined a lawsuit to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions as those who we be more likely (19%) to support such a candidate.
Finally, only 21% of small business owners said the elimination of the individual tax mandate would impact their decision on whether to purchase health insurance.
These data were collected from government economic sources and via the Thumbtack Economic Sentiment Survey, which captures the attitudes and perspectives of thousands of business owners from across the country every month to gauge how they are feeling about the economy and their businesses. Now in its sixth year, this survey provides a unique vantage point on the economy, as respondents are largely mobile service professionals with five or fewer employees who operate across the United States. Because they are hard to reach, these professionals are frequently overlooked in other surveys of small businesses. Note: percentages for individual graphics may not round to 100 due to rounding.