Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Chief Executives Tell What’s on Their Mind this Election Year

War Takes Top Place, Energy Policy Jumps Ranks and Healthcare Drops Down

As the nation nears the critical Philadelphia primary, following a stormy month in the financial markets, Chief Executive magazine’s survey among 321 top executives reveals that the single most important issue for the nation’s chief executives this election year is the “War on Terror and homeland security.”   

This paints an interesting contrast with the findings of the 2004 election year survey, in which chief executives collectively voted healthcare (now ranked # 6) as the single most important issue. 

The issues that follow the Iraq War and homeland security are, “energy policy and cost reduction” and “corporate tax policy,” which almost ties with energy policy.  In a rather remarkable move, energy policy and cost reduction leaped three spots this election year, as rising oil prices and the nation’s dependency on foreign oil has proven to damage consumer confidence and the overall economy.  Tax policy maintained its third spot in the rankings. 

“The opinion of CEOs is of utmost importance when creating a sound economic policy,” said Edward M. Kopko, CEO and Publisher of Chief Executive Magazine. “Their ability to provide jobs and grow their businesses is paramount to the success of America’s economy, and presidential candidates are well-advised to consider their policy priorities.”  

According to the CEOs surveyed, a potential success in Iraq goes hand-in-hand with success in energy policy and cost reduction, as Michael A. Zeher, CEO of Zeher Global Associates, explains, “The most timely and effective way to keep the price of oil restrained within the current $100 per barrel range is to score big wins on €˜The War on Terror’ while strengthening all aspects of our homeland security.”            

With regard to the remedies for a faltering economy, CEOs believe that “tax policy for corporations and business incentives,” are key: “The fastest and the best method of ensuring health and growth in the economy is a reduction in taxes, both corporate (first) and individual (second),” as one CEO wishing to remain anonymous reckons. 

Heavy corporate taxes are cited as one of the main reasons why many corporations prefer to do business elsewhere, and CEOs fear a potential win by the Democratic Party in the election will only worsen the situation. “Raising corporate tax rates will chase corporations overseas to low tax havens such as Ireland and will have a very negative impact on the economy,” says Daniel Dykens, CEO of Norbury Financial Systems.   

The U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates among all OECD countries-almost 40 percent. Ireland, which has the lowest corporate rate-12.5 percent-collects 3.6 percent of GDP from corporate revenues. By contrast, the U.S. collects 2.5 percent.           

The CEO Index polling was conducted among 321 executives between March 11th and March 26th.  For additional information regarding the confidence of public- and private-company CEOs, details about CEO attitudes on employment, investment and business conditions.

 Rank 2004 Election Issue 2008 Election Issue
 1 Healthcare  Iraq, War on Terror, Homeland Security
 2 Terrorism/Homeland Security  Energy policy and cost reduction
 3 Taxation

Tax policy for corporations, business incentives

 4 Job creation  Federal debt reduction
 5 Energy

Tax Policy for individuals

 6 International trade  Healthcare reform
 7 Global labor sourcing  Immigration
 8 Tort Reform  Regulation and Government reform
 9 Education  International trade policy (NAFTA, etc.)
 10 Other  Education Policy

Social Policies (crime, drugs, abortion, gun laws, etc.)

 Social Security reform
 12 Social Security

Social policies (abortion, gay marriage, gun-rights, etc.)


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.