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Small Business Owners Poised to Vote GOP

IFA, friend to few Democrat Congressional candidates, chart:bmm source:IFA's Franpac

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Small business owners believe a Republican-controlled Congress will have a more positive impact on the economy.  According to a recent survey, 49 percent of small business owners would choose Republican congressional candidates if the elections were held today, while 38 percent would vote Democratic.Four percent would choose another party and nine percent are not sure.

The Republican Party comes out on top in answer to the queston of which political party is better at understanding the needs of small business owners, a gap that has widened in the past two years. According to the Discover Small Business survey of October 25, 45 percent of small business owners still give the nod to Republicans, 30 percent favored Democrats and 20 percent said neither party understands their needs. Compare that to a month prior to the 2008 elections, when 43 percent of small business owners thought the GOP represented their interests better, while almost as many, 40 percent, thought the Democratic Party did.

"When we asked small business owners whether there would be a greater impact on the economy if Republicans win control of Congress or Democrats remain the majority, they leaned in the direction of having a change," said Ryan Scully, director of Discover's business card.

When asked not whom they would vote for, but who generically would better lead Congress, 51 percent of small business owners said it would be better for the GOP to control Congress, compared to 39 percent who said it would be better for Democrats to remain in control.

The survey is based on a random poll of small business owners who have less than five employees, a segment that consists of 22 million businesses producing more than a trillion dollars in annual receipts. The number of employees is slightly smaller than the average franchise establishment, which has six and a half employees, according to Source Book Publications.

Plan to vote GOP or Democrat for Congress?
chart:bmm; data:zogby/discover

Small business owners following general population polls

The percentage of small business owners planning to vote for their GOP candidates is very similar to that of the general population.

A Zogby poll asks citizens (not just small business owners) who will likely vote, "In the Congressional race in 2010, for which party's candidate do you intend to vote—Democrat or Republican?"

According to the October 25 Zogby poll, Republicans have also increased their lead over Democrats in the national Congressional generic ballot, leading 48 percent to 41 percent.

Regarding this favorable wind for the Republicans, pollster John Zogby observes, "Time is running out on the Democrats. Unless Democrats get very lucky by winning a lion's share of the close races, Nancy Pelosi will be handing over the Speaker's gavel to John Boehner."

Different Franchise PAC Groups Advocate Differently

The International Franchise Association has actively donated more than $570,000 to 34 franchisor-friendly Senators and 105 Representatives over the period of 2009 to 2010. Its political action committee, FranPac, highlights 49 Republican candidates for its members to vote for compared to 9 Democrats, despite a major effort of a Democratic-controlled Congress to approve the Small Business Jobs Act earlier this month. The Act would have given small businesses a cut in taxes and $30 billion to free up credit.

Columnist Keith Girard of AllBusiness argues that the IFA's instinct is to bite the hand that feeds it. "There is a supreme irony to their efforts, at least as far as small businesses are concerned. The current Democratic-controlled Congress has been more pro-small business than any other congressional session during more than a decade of Republican control," opines Girard.

In contrast, the National Auto Dealers Association, an independent association for automobile franchisees, plays both parties roughly equally to help push what it wants. It funded $1.6 million earlier in the year that was evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. lists NADA as one of the top 20 lobbyists of any kind on Capitol Hill.

With over 10,000 paid members, mainly franchisees, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association has $650,000 in 2010 PAC contributions.

C.K. Patel, chair of AAHOA, says that his association does not endorse candidates for members to vote on. They highlight issues that affect the members. "I hope that franchisees will go out and vote Tuesday for franchisee and small business friendly candidates," adds Patel.

Its website emphasizes legislation rather than endorsing individual congressional candidates. AAHOA is known for advocating twelve points of fair franchising, a sort of bill of rights for franchisees and a reminder to franchisors of where the line of abuse starts.

Another lobbying group, the Coalition of Franchisee Associations, offers an online legislative tool for members to find information about their state and federal legislators.

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