Many small business owners are still learning what Mitt Romney's running mate stands for. But an early poll indicates that, so far, Paul Ryan's selection as the Republican VP candidate isn't influencing small business votes one way or another.
In a Manta poll of more than 1,900 small business owners in early August, a significant majority—61 percent—said they plan to vote for Governor Romney on November 6. Manta polled 550 of those respondents again on Monday this week to ask whether Ryan's selection would sway their vote. The percent in favor of Romney changed no more than the survey's margin of error, a Manta spokeswoman told Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. Thirty percent said they plan to vote for Obama.
The stats might change as business owners get to know Ryan. "With his Path for Prosperity, Congressman Ryan has gotten notoriety, but I'm not sure our members will know him off the top of their head," said Kristie Arslan, president and CEO of the National Association for the Self Employed.
Arslan said NASE does not endorse candidates, but is, like Ryan, in favor of simplifying the tax code. The trouble, Arslan said, is that his goal to do away with deductions is unrealistic. "I just don't think politically that's going to get done with all the special interests pushing for their unique deductions." (As we reported earlier, NASE is among the groups pushing for special tax breaks.)
As business owners get to know what a Romney-Ryan ticket would do for them, Arslan says she'd also like to see evidence that all of the candidates truly understand the needs of small businesses today.
Congressman Ryan, 42, who has been in Washington since his 20s and has little business world experience, is in favor of a two-tiered tax system for individuals and a reduced corporate tax rate. Arslan notes that few small business owners would benefit from corporate tax cuts: "The self-employed—that's 78 percent of all small businesses—pay their taxes based on the individual rates, not corporate rates," she said. "That's an important distinction that all the candidates should be aware of."
Arslan said NASE's mission during election season is to see that the candidates are "clear about who the real business owners are." She said, "So much of what politicians think helps small business really only helps large companies. It's our role to make sure the candidates are thinking of policy that relates to all small business and not just the high-impact, high-growth firms that everyone loves, which are very few and far between."