Main Street in Battlefield States May Rock Presidential Election

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Voters line up to enter a polling station and vote on the first day of the state’s in-person advance polling for the general election in Durham, North Carolina, the United States, October 15, 2020.

Jonathan Drake | Reuters

Economic recovery is a priority for many small business owners – especially after Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett confirmed Monday, after which Congress was adjourned by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, until November 9.

For many, the October adjournment makes any prospect of virus-related aid nearly impossible before next Tuesday’s presidential election.

“A lot of my friends have gone bankrupt all over the country before,” said Bryony Rebouf, a small business owner in Boone, North Carolina. “And we could have a whole other conversation about how many people I need to kick out of my store who won’t be wearing masks… but this damage is constant; It’s regular.”

Rebouf owns Bluebird Exchange – a children’s consignment store in North Carolina that only had six part-time employees at the start of the pandemic and has since replenished its employee base. She applied for a local grant when the closures began to take effect in March, but then applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and then a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, the last of three from which she received 12,500. $.

The Paycheck Protection Program, created by the CARES Act, a $ 2.2 trillion relief measure enacted in March, offered low-interest loans of up to $ 10 million to small businesses. companies. A total of 4.9 million PPP loans have been approved, representing funding of $ 525 billion, according to the SBA.

The carnage on Main Street is expected to spur a high turnout next Tuesday as small business owners vote for the candidate they think will stand up for them best, small business pundits agree. And they are a force to be reckoned with given that there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States and drive 44% of all economic activity, according to the SBA Office of Advocacy.

Entrepreneurs vote in large numbers – 95% of small business owners regularly vote in national contests, according to the National Small Business Association – and the demographics are rather conservative. Forty percent of small business owners identify as Republicans, compared with 29 percent identifying as Democrats and 25 percent claiming to be independent. A growing proportion of business owners report voting on a more polarized basis because of issues such as taxes, stimulus and trade policy, and social justice.

“I think there are more variables in this election than in the recent election,” Kevin Kuhlman, vice president of federal government relations at the National Federation of Independent Businesses, recently told CNBC. “The policy differences are glaring and the pandemic creates uncertainty and a need for additional financial assistance. There are many short and long term issues that would be taken into account and make a decision difficult.”

Post-election fears

“I believe that many small business owners will reassess their futures as a result of the election results,” said Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “They have operated at the limit and many are in a hole or just getting out of it. If they think the economic uncertainty, the length of the pandemic and the stalemate on the stimulus will continue to persist, we could see many more businesses closed over the next few months. ”

Rebouf said she used her loan money to pay rent and payroll for two to three months. She also said she voted early for the former vice president Joe biden.

“If there’s a blue wave… I think they’ll take care of people financially, so they can stay home and do what’s safe,” she said. “If things remained as they are, Democrats controlling the House, Republicans controlling the Senate and President Trump to be re-elected … I think the House would let them go through anything just to get something, because there is nothing to wait for. “

In North Carolina, Trump is currently enjoying a strong surge in GOP external spending, giving him a greater advantage in the state. Biden spent $ 3.8 million last week compared to $ 2.6 million for Trump, according to NBC News; This represented a weekly increase for both campaigns.

For months, Republicans and Democrats did not approve new aid funds despite a growing number of infections and signs of a slowing economic recovery. The United States reported 73,240 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day average of new cases to around 71,832, a new high and an increase of more than 20% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis data collected by Johns. Hopkins University.

Three dozen states reported that the average number of people currently hospitalized with Covid-19 has increased by at least 5% over the past week, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project, which tracks tests, hospitalizations and other data on the outbreak. Cases have increased by at least that amount in 45 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

Amidst all of this, a record number of voters have already voted, in large part due to health concerns linked to the pandemic, prompting an unprecedented demand for early voting in the mail and in person.

In fact, early voting in 2020 has now surpassed the 58 million advance votes by mail or in person cast in 2016, based on Associated press totals, and achieved more than 50% of the more than 136 million votes cast in the 2016 presidential election. Additionally, as the deadlines for postal ballots approach, more than 30 million ballots per Requested correspondence was not returned, including more than 11 million registered Democrats, reports the US Election Project.

As a result, concerns about the credibility of the elections have been circulating for months. While a few thousand votes are unlikely to tip a presidential race, it is certainly not uncommon: Donald Trump won Michigan by just over 10,000 votes in 2016, while Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire by just 2,736 votes. Florida’s electoral fate was sadly decided by just 537 votes in 2000.

Swing states in the 2020 election

This time around, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida could be the swing states that will determine the winner of the presidential election. How small business voters vote could be a deciding factor.

“When you talk to the Trump campaign, there is no path to 270 without these three states,” NBC News’ Chuck Todd told CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen at last week’s CNBC Financial Advisor Summit. “They have roads without Arizona. They have roads without Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan – believe it or not. Where they don’t have a road is without any of these three states. [Florida, North Carolina and Ohio] I mentioned.”

For Mark Schafer, a longtime Ohio small business owner and Republican, the lack of additional help won’t change the way he plans to vote, in person, on Tuesday. Schafer is the second generation owner of Clipper Barber Shop in Sylvania, Ohio, which has been in business since 1972.

At the start of the pandemic, Schafer said he asked for everything he could get and eventually got an SBA loan under expanded unemployment benefits. He said the aide subsidized a portion of his household income for nine weeks from when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine enforced stay-at-home restrictions on March 22.

“I haven’t voted yet, but he [stimulus] won’t change the way I vote on a national or local stage, “Schafer said. In fact,” I can’t find a person I know, who has changed their mind, yes or no, because of Covid and any other stimulus, ”he added.

“I have not received any response from PPP,” Schafer said. But “regardless of what has already happened and what will happen … [stimulus] did not affect the way they [small business owners] are going to vote “in Ohio.

“Voters understand that the strength and economic health of their communities is tied to their local businesses,” said Kerrigan. “This heightened awareness as a result of Covid-19 brought the need for a recovery plan and a back-up plan to the fore. There is general frustration with the stalemate, which is unacceptable. “

But according to Schafer, “whatever is going to happen at this point is really just the icing on the cake,” he said. And on the Florida battlefield, that view is shared by a small business owner in Belleair, who asked to remain anonymous, but said she leans in to support Trump early in the election cycle, and is now undecided before Tuesday, citing Trump “a sense of non-urgency” regarding the pandemic and stimulus needs.

“I don’t have a feeling of anger or of disparity,” she said of attitudes towards the ongoing stimulus negotiations. ” Do they [small business owners] do you want it and would it help them? Every little bit counts. I think that’s the attitude, at least among people I know, “she added, echoing Schafer.

As a local real estate agent who has lived in the state for over 20 years, she said she did not originally need or apply for PPP help due to an “influx” of people. settling in the region at the time. “I guess, based on the sentiment and temper of small business owners here where I live, is Biden,” which should benefit those who haven’t yet voted in the state.

In Florida, Biden increased his spending, while Trump cut his spending week-to-week, according to NBC News. Biden has spent three times as much as Republicans, while total Republicans spending is practically stagnant. Total spending by Democrats rose 23% week over week.

“This is not the center of the battlefield,” NBC’s Todd said. “They’re arguably right-wing states when all things are equal. So if Biden wins those states, that tells you where the numbers are likely to be in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, or Arizona.”

Of course, no one in those states reflects the states as a whole, nor will they determine the outcome of the election.

And finally, about half of business owners anticipate needing additional financial assistance in the next 12 months.

“Unfortunately, the post-election period can be fraught with additional uncertainties given that there is no guarantee that Democratic leaders will negotiate and work with President Trump no matter who wins the White House. that is, if we even know the winner after election day, ”Kerrigan says. “What is at stake is the survival of small businesses, and business owners crave certainty, relief and a lifeline to help them weather the difficult months ahead.”


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