From his inflammatory comments about immigration and women to attacks on other politicians and countries around the world, Donald Trump has continued to infuriate his Republican opponents and create joy among Democrats and the media. And yet small-business owners continue to overwhelmingly favor him.
A survey released last week showed that 41 percent of small business owners viewed Donald Trump as the best presidential candidate--41 percent! Trump held double-digit leads over all his closest competitors. He also held a double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton. The poll was taken after the last Republican debate. Oh, and more women business owners favored him than men.
Why is this? What's going on?
Let's face it, love him or hate him...small business loves him. Trump is different. He's funny. He's fresh and interesting, and he may even be a little crazy. But he's taking a serious run at the presidency. Of course, there's a long, long way to the elections. But there are between 20 million and 30 million small businesses in America, and they employ more than half of the country's working population. Statistics also show that, in the past 20 years, two out of every three new jobs created here were created by a small business. This is a critical block of voters for any presidential candidate. And right now, Donald Trump is winning us. And for one big reason: Donald Trump is relatable.
We know Donald Trump.
Trump's bravado, honesty, and straight-talking is not what you get from a typical politician, is it? Which is why most small-business owners don't relate to politicians. But we do business with guys like Trump all the time. Back in May, Hillary Clinton declared that she intended to be the "small-business president." Really? Think about what it takes to run a small business: buying, selling, hiring, firing, doing deals, managing cash, keeping overhead low, making payroll. There's Hillary Clinton. And there's Donald Trump. Between the two, and as a small-business owner, who do you think understands us more? Exactly.
We relate to people who are more like us, who know our problems, know where we're coming from, know what we want. And Donald Trump, even though he's offered few specifics, gives the impression that he gets small business. How could he not--he's been a businessman all his life.
Will Trump look after our best interests?
As I wrote previously, Trump may surprise a few people if he becomes president. He's not averse to raising taxes on the rich, and his protectionist policies could hurt many companies that do business overseas. His unfiltered behavior could cause serious problems both in Congress and with our international allies, and that could all affect our economy. His intention to change Obamacare at this late stage could also have far-reaching impacts.
But small-business owners seem to have faith in him. They recognize that not all decisions are easy ones, and that there will be compromises. That's all part of negotiating deals. And that what Trump does. That's what we do. And we have faith that he will do what he does best. That's how he became so rich, right?
And speaking of being rich...
We relate to Donald Trump because he's not afraid to admit that he's rich. In fact, he's damn proud of it. Many small-business owners and entrepreneurs I know do what they do out of passion. And that's great. But ALL of them are in it for the money too. You don't run a business for very long unless you've got a strong profit incentive. And you don't sacrifice so much--your family, your life savings, your freedoms--without the hope of a big financial return. Those guys in Silicon Valley are creating the coolest tech ever, and I'm sure love that they're changing the world. But trust me, they love the funding rounds, the IPOs, and their stock price just as much.
Like Trump, we're also in it for the money.
And for the past few years, that's been kind of shameful. We're supposed to feel guilty for making a profit. The story has been that the evil one-percenters, by extension corporate America, and by extension the business community, has been the cause of all of America's problems. But not to Donald Trump. To him, businesses and entrepreneurs are the solutions to America's problems. And why not profit? Why not get rich? Why not fly in helicopters and ride in limos and enjoy the fruits of our labor? That's Trump's message. Everything runs in cycles. And it seems like the cycle is turning. Business owners like me appreciate Trump's message. We don't want to be like Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz. We want to be like Donald Trump.
Small-business owners will be a very critical part of the 2016 elections. I think whoever wins this group will win the presidency. There's still a long, long way to go. But right now, Trump is winning. Watch out.