A CEO by the name of Mike Miller sent me an e-mail last week ribbing me about Inc.'s political bias, which he says is liberal. The latest example of this, he suggested, was an item in the November issue, in which we reported the findings of an admittedly unscientific, free-ranging poll conducted at the September Inc. 500 conference. Two of the questions involved politics: Who do you think is the best presidential candidate for entrepreneurs? Do you support universal health care? The answers--Hillary Clinton (40 percent) and yes (47 percent)--made Mr. Miller suspicious about our methods. As we all know, entrepreneurs vote Republican.
A month after that off-the-cuff poll, Inc. and the market research company MarketTools conducted a very scientific survey of entrepreneurial small-business leaders "representative of the U.S. small-business sector as a whole in terms of geography and company size," or so the official methodology language goes. We called it the Inc.-Zoomerang Entrepreneurial Report; Zoomerang is the online feedback tool for MarketTools.
Guess what? The entrepreneurs came out for Clinton and regulated health care. Of 1,000 respondents, 22 percent said if the presidential election were held at that moment (mid-October), they would vote for Clinton. Seventeen percent backed Rudy Giuliani, with Fred Thompson and Barack Obama tied for third at 11 percent each. Asked about health care, 57 percent said that a regulated system would be good for growing businesses. Asked if the current administration was on the right or wrong track, 62 percent of respondents said "wrong." And asked to give their party affiliation, 37 percent went for the GOP, 27 percent said they were Democrats, and 24 percent identified themselves as Independents. All these findings represent enormous change within this historically Republican group. Candidates (and Mr. Miller) should take note.
This month, we're introducing a photo spread called Behind the Scenes. Here, we will spotlight companies that are at the heart of everyday life but whose products and services go largely unnoticed. Our first stop is a Wendy's drive-through in Maryland. Scores of privately held small and midsize businesses keep that big franchise operation churning efficiently, and if you click here, you'll read about four of them, run by clever businesspeople who have figured out ways to be integral to American life--and independent. Could be a trend.