U.S. CEOs Overwhelmingly Support Romney; Fear Obama Second Term

U.S. CEOs Overwhelmingly Support Romney; Fear Obama Second Term

Chief Executive surveyed 284 CEOs in October 2012 about the upcoming Presidential Election. The results were almost identical to those from a completely separate group of 334 CEOs who were asked the same questions in September 2012.

It may be no surprise that business leaders prefer Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate, but by how significant a margin? Fairly significant it seems. Over 83 percent of CEOs surveyed by Chief Executive magazine intend to vote for Mitt Romney for President on November 6. In fact, CEOs are openly afraid of the prospect of another four years of President Obama.

The findings also show that if Romney is elected, CEOs will be likely to increase capital expenditures and hiring, whereas they plan to stay conservative should Obama be re-elected.

Less than 11 percent (10.6%) plan to vote for Barack Obama and 5.5 percent say they are undecided. Chief Executive surveyed 284 current CEOs in its October 2012 CEO Confidence survey.

The reasons seem clear to most business leaders. Nearly 58 percent say President Obama has significantly harmed business conditions over the last four years. Over 26 percent say he has harmed conditions more than he has helped—which means that 84 percent take a decidedly negative view of President Obama’s effectiveness since he took office in January 2009. Less than 12 percent think he has helped or significantly helped the economy.

Considering that fact that the President continually maintains that his actions have supported small business, one might suppose that this group may be more favorably inclined to support Obama. But this is not the case. Almost 45 percent of the CEOs surveyed run businesses under $25 million in revenues and they must not have received the President’s memo.

84 percent of CEOs surveyed say that were Mitt Romney to be elected in November, the former Massachusetts governor would significantly help or would help more than harm overall business conditions. Only about 8 percent believe that a Romney Presidency would harm the economy.

Reducing the deficit and limiting debt were two of the most critical issues to business leaders. More than any other, these two issues, say CEOs, most influence their voting decision. Job creation and corporate tax rates—the latter something both candidates agree should be reduced—follow in CEO priorities. Health care legislation and foreign policy, although very important, are ranked further behind.

Less than a third (31%) reported current overall business conditions as weak with 15 percent saying conditions are poor. Only 23 percent said conditions were good or very good. Less than 1 percent said they were excellent. Ever an optimistic group, 45 percent, said overall condition a year from now will be good. However, 36 percent indicated that the economy will remain weak. Some (35.6 %) are cautiously optimistic that their own company’s revenues will improve at least 10 percent but less than a fifth forecast revenue increases next year greater than l0 percent. About half (48.4%) expect no change in their overall employment levels while 22.6 percent expect employment to drop.

You can read more about the results of October’s CEO Confidence Index and see quotes from the respondents here: CEO Confidence Plummets to 2012 Low on Fears of Obama Re-Election

The charts above are based on a recent survey of 284 CEOs conducted by Chief Executive magazine’s research group as part of our monthly CEO Confidence Index.