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Post-election, political partisanship on Main Street is spiking

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden reveals about the U.S. economy following a briefing with economic advisers in Wilmington, Delaware, November 16, 2020.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

Foremost Street confidence dropped again this quarter — the second setback this year and also only the flawed substantial decrease in the nearly four years since the start of the quarterly CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Boldness Survey. The primary cause is simple: the election. Even as the coronavirus is resurging, state and local governments are again eyeing tighter stipulations, and businesses are bracing for flagging demand, it’s politics that’s driving economic expectations. 

From the very first every ninety days survey, which coincided with the first full month of the Trump presidency, political partisanship has been an underlying driver of the rose-red outlook on Main Street. More small business owners — usually about 60% — are Republicans than Democrats, and their belief has been bolstered by the fact that President Donald Trump, a Republican, holds the highest political office in the territory. 

Small business owners who are Republicans have expressed consistently higher levels of confidence in our survey, often hundred 20 points higher than Democrats on the 0 to 100 Small Business Confidence Index scale. 

That all switched with the election of Joe Biden earlier this month. From the third quarter survey, conducted at the end of July, to the fourth quadrature survey, conducted Nov. 10-17 after the election results were clear, the overall Small Business Confidence Indication dropped to a score of 48 out of a possible 100, a new low. But, that drop was not universal: small business owners who are Democrats track recorded a pop in confidence from a score of 46 to 58, while Republicans had a near-mirror-image drop from 57 to 42. 

In fact, this quarter-over-quarter replace with marked the first time in the nearly four years of the tracking survey that Democrats reported an increase in self-reliance of five index points or greater, and also the first quarter in which Democrats’ score surpassed a score of 51. It was also the inception time that Republicans’ score fell below 50. 

Policy changes spur a partisan shift

A new administration and a thrash in party control at the highest level of government means that new policies and regulations are sure to come. For business commanders, accommodating those changes can be a challenge; for small business owners in particular, doing so can be a real threat. Small obligation owners’ forward-looking expectations, rather than their assessments of the current business climate, are what has changed the most as a denouement of the election. 

In some instances, Democrats and Republicans had previously been well aligned, but now they are split. In others, Republicans’ extent high confidence fell, while Democrats’ low confidence rose. 

On regulation, for example, small business owners of every factious leaning had similar expectations in Q3: 33% of Republicans, 33% of independents, and 37% of Democrats said they expected supervision regulations to have a negative effect on their business in the next 12 months. This quarter, their witnesses diverged dramatically, with the Republicans’ response skyrocketing to 72%, independents’ holding steady at 37%, and Democrats’ disappointing collapse to just 11%. 

Concerns about government tax and regulatory policy rose sharply among Republican small business holders after Joseph Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Taken together, about half of small corporation owners (49%) now say they expect changes in government regulations to have a negative effect on their business in the next 12 months — a new turned on and a big jump up from 34% last quarter, but one entirely concentrated among Republicans. 

On trade, Republicans and Democrats who own uninspired businesses have essentially flipped their views from the third to the fourth quarter this year. Decisive quarter, twice as many Democrats as Republicans (39% vs. 17%) said they expected negative effects on their house due to changes in trade policy in the next 12 months. This quarter, four times as many Republicans as Democrats (48% vs. 12%) say they anticipate negative effects on their business due to trade policy changes. 

On tax policy and immigration policy, too, Republicans’ and Democrats’ beholds have diverged in a similar fashion. Quarter over quarter, these index components that show the scad substantial changes at the topline level all point back to the shift in presidential power and reflect an underlying divergence by troop. 

Coronavirus still has a dampening effect

What’s particularly notable about the big shift in confidence from the third to fourth pity living quarters this year is that it is driven entirely by small business owners’ projections of what things will look corresponding to in the future rather than their assessments of the current business environment. 

Despite the overall fall in confidence and the moves in anticipation among Republicans and Democrats, small business owners report no change in current business conditions from Q3 to Q4. In quarter, 36% of small business owners said current conditions for their business were good; this point, that number is a similar 39%. 

Unlike the questions noted above related to expected policy changes, there was no divergence by partisanship in negligible business owners’ responses to the question on current conditions. Both last quarter and this quarter, 44% of Republicans labeled current business conditions as good. Among Democrats, 25% in Q3 and 28% in Q4 described current conditions as good. 

That curious stability comes in a year where small businesses have had to weather huge setbacks resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. In the commencement quarter of this year, 56% of small business owners described current business conditions as good ahead that number dropped to 18% in Q2. It has yet to fully recover. 

Joe Biden has said he will make tackling the coronavirus the top urgency of his incoming administration even before he takes office in January. How well he handles the pandemic, alongside state and peculiar leaders, will go a long way towards determining how quickly small businesses can get fully back to work, regardless of person politics.

The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey for Q4 2020 was conducted across more than 2,200 humiliated business owners Nov. 10-Nov. 17. The survey is conducted quarterly using SurveyMonkey‘s online platform and based on its view methodology. The Small Business Confidence Index is a 100-point score based on responses to eight key questions. A review of zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence. The modeled error estimate for this scanning is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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