Freelancers and small business service providers will represent a significant demographic of voters this election.
At 35% of the U.S. workforce, their $1.2 trillion contribution to the U.S. economy—and the issues they care about—must be recognized and supported by political leaders.
The novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and the subsequent economic downturn have caused widespread financial hardship and uncertainty for small business owners. According to our earlier report on the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, by the end of March 2020, service providers were transacting at only 50% of February 2020 levels.
And while federal aid came swiftly for big business, who depleted the first round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding in just 12 days, America’s smallest business owners (and most financially vulnerable), were largely left to fend for themselves.
So, with the 2020 presidential election less than a month away, we wanted to know how freelancers are feeling about political leadership, how their businesses have fared this year and what issues will influence their vote when they head to the polls on November 3. Keep reading to see what we learned and what matters most for small businesses.
HoneyBook surveyed 1,061 freelancers and small business service providers via SurveyMonkey from September 9 to September 20, 2020. Of the survey respondents, 10% were Gen Z (age 18-24), 48% were Millennials (age 25-39), 22% were Gen X (age 40 – 49) and 20% were Baby Boomers (age 50+). In terms of political party, 25% of respondents identified as Republican, 33% as Democrat, 26% as Independent and 16% as undecided or “other.”
Our survey data shows that Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading among freelancers. If the election were held today, 50% of respondents would vote for Biden, 35% would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump and 11% remain undecided.
Among freelancers who voted for Trump in 2016, 13% said they would not vote for him again this election and 7% would switch their vote to Biden.
COVID-19 and the resulting economic recession have hit small business service providers hard. According to our survey, 50% lost more than a quarter of their revenue and 28% lost more than half since the pandemic reached the U.S. in March 2020.
Leadership and COVID-19
Further analysis revealed that freelancers are more critical of how Congress is handling the economic crisis than President Donald Trump. The results show that:
- 67% of freelancers disapprove of Congress’ actions while 53% disapprove of President Donald Trump’s actions
- 21% of freelancers approve of Congress’ actions whereas 42% approve of President Donald Trump’s actions
“Small businesses across the U.S. are dying in the wake of COVID-19 and, with stimulus negotiations now on pause until after the election, they’ve been dealt yet another devastating blow,” says Oz Alon, CEO of HoneyBook. “Regardless of your political preference, small business owners are a vital part of our society and a driving force behind the economy. It is therefore imperative that Congress rise above political partisanship and come together to deliver the critical aid small business owners need in this unprecedented time.”
By May, more than 100,000 American small businesses had closed permanently due to financial hardship faced in the wake of COVID-19, according to a Harvard University Study. Unless decisive action is taken by leadership to intervene many more could follow. In fact, nearly one-third of survey respondents said they were likely to have to close their business if the economic situation doesn’t improve in the next six months.
The Issues The Matter
America’s 57 million freelancers command significant political influence. With 90% planning to vote in the 2020 election and 88% already registered, a presidential candidate’s stance on issues business owners care about could have a significant impact on the election’s outcome.
1 in 3 survey respondents said they are likely to switch whom they are voting for if the opposing party’s policies address the needs of freelancers and their current party’s policies do not. When asked which issues will most likely influence their vote, freelancers stated the following as the top four:
- 66% said access to affordable healthcare
- 65% said protection against discrimination
- 63% said protection against harassment
- 59% said access to social security
While nearly all freelancers plan to vote, Gen Z and Millennials are less decided about who they are going to vote for in 2020. In fact, Gen Z is three times more likely to be undecided than Gen X and Boomers. This cohort represents the highest percentage of undecided voters at 26% followed by Millennials at 16%.
We also uncovered which political issues matter most for each generation. According to the survey:
- 68% of Gen Z value protection against harassment most
- 68% of Millennials value protection against discrimination most
- 69% of Gen X value access to affordable health care most
- 74% of Baby Boomers value affordable health care and social security equally
Older generations consider institutional benefits like health care and social security most important, while younger voters put greater emphasis on protection against discrimination and harassment.
While Democratic candidate Joe Biden leads among all generations, given the high percentage of undecided voters among Gen Z and Millennials, new campaign developments could still sway this influential demographic.
Next Up: Election Day
With the 2020 presidential election a mere 27 days away there’s only one thing left to do: vote. It is the responsibility of all Americans to exercise their democratic right and let their voices be heard on November 3.
Make sure you’re registered to vote in your state and request your absentee ballot if you do not plan to vote in-person. If you’re not registered, there’s still time in most states to do so and some also offer registration in-person on election day.
Check the rules in your state and join us at the polls!