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Has Trump Slumped with CEOs? Our Survey Suggests He Has

Support among large company CEOs dropped from 81% to 44% in just a month, with 21% of all CEOs currently in the market for a new candidate.

In the wake of both conventions and after a number of controversial comments by the Republican presidential candidate, support for that candidate among respondents to Chief Executive’s August CEO Survey seems to be wavering. While 80.8% of large-company CEOs responding to our July poll said they were in the Trump camp, just a month later, only 43.5% remained there, with just 13.4% of large-company CEOs voicing support for Hillary Clinton, and fully 30.4% saying they were planning to look for another candidate.

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As one respondent put it, “I have always voted Republican in past presidential elections. However, the Republican platform (and its archaic stance on social issues) and their presidential candidate are both unacceptable to me. I will either do a protest vote for the libertarian candidate or perhaps vote for Clinton.”

This shift was evident regardless of company size. Among upper middle-market firms, only 49.3% said they were voting for Trump, down from 64.5% in July. Lower middle-market firms showed a similar decline, from 69.4% in July to 56.6% in August. The drop among small companies was less significant: from 64.3% in July to 61.4% in August.

Across all companies, support for Trump dropped from 68.3% in July to 55.5% in August. Hillary Clinton’s support remained relatively the same, with 17.4% of the vote in July and 16.6% in August. The biggest gainer? Almost anyone else. In fact, 22.1% of respondents in August indicated they were in the market for another candidate. Added to those who said they were going to sit the election out (5.8%, down from 14.3% in July), that represents more than a quarter of respondents.

“Trump lacks focus, knowledge of the issues, and an ability or willingness to learn the issues at a detailed level,” wrote one CEO, who then added, but “Clinton totally lacks integrity and has the arrogance to plain and simply lie about the emails and other issues.”

Overall, the conventions themselves seem to have had little impact on candidate choice, at least among CEOs. Just over 5% said that they’d switched their support from Trump to Clinton after the conventions, while 2% said they had shifted from Clinton to Trump.

Note: August results by company size for Donald Trump are a combination of two answers: “I was planning to vote for Trump and still am.” and “I was planning to vote for Clinton but have decided to vote for Trump instead. August results for Hillary Clinton are a combination of two answers: “I was planning to vote for Clinton and still am.” and “I was planning to vote for Trump but have decided to vote for Clinton instead.”

Large companies = >$1B; upper mid-market companies = $100M-$999.9M; lower mid-market companies = $10M-$99.9M; small companies = <$10M.

About Lynn Russo Whylly

Lynn Russo Whylly