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Business Owners Changing Sides?

As they head to the polls, many entrepreneurs are reconsidering party allegiances, a survey finds.

Squeezed by the credit crunch and struggling to keep their companies afloat, many small-business owners are reconsidering long-held party allegiances as they head to the polls this November, a new survey shows.

Sixty-two percent of 850 small-business owners recently polled said they were planning to cross party lines when they vote next month, according to the George S. May International Company, a Chicago-based management consulting firm.

Though the survey didn't identify which party or candidate respondents supported, a separate poll of 516 owners conducted by the firm last month found 59.5 percent felt Democratic candidate Barack Obama would help small businesses more. At the same time, 39.3 percent said they believed Sen. John McCain, the Republican candidate, would do more to alleviate financial burdens on smaller employers.

"I've not seen a number that high -- over 50 percent -- willing to cross lines," said Paul Rauseo, the firm's managing director. "I can tell you that there's a very large contingent of small businesses who are very upset at the fact that for a year now, they've been tightening their belts, they've been cutting expenses, they've stopped hiring, and the rest of the world just wakes up to this financial crisis," he said.

The latest survey also found that 59 percent of small-business owners feel the $700 billion federal bailout will not help their businesses, particularly when it comes to curbing rising health-care and energy costs, among other issues.

More than half of the owners polled said they're being affected by tighter credit markets, prompting many to dip into savings.

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