Accountants favor Trump in election by large margin

Accountants favor Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election by a large margin, according to a recent survey — and regardless of who they're voting for, they expect the state of the country and the economy to improve significantly after Nov. 3.

In a survey of over 400 accountants from across the country conducted by Arizent, the publisher of Accounting Today, 55 percent of respondents said that they plan to vote for the incumbent president, against 38 percent who plan to vote for his rival, Democrat Joe Biden. (See the data, below.)

That disparity, however, only hints at the depths of the polarization between supporters of the two candidates.

"I believe a Biden-Harris win would destroy the country. If this is the outcome, small business will suffer tremendously. I also believe the country that we know will drastically change and it will be difficult to recover," said one, reflecting a concern about Democratic plans and policies that many fellow accountants reported sharing. (All responses were anonymous.)

Said another, "I will close my business and retire if Harris/Biden is elected."

An accountant who opposes the president, on the other hand, said, "I've never been much into politics, but Trump is such a threat to the U.S. that I could no longer sit on the side lines and not express my opinion. I believe If Trump is re-elected, it will be a disaster for the country, the environment, and the health and well-being of the nation."

Respondents on both sides were convinced that this is an unusually consequential election, comparing it to turning-point contests in 1800, 1860 and 1964. A number also expressed concerns about the overall political system in the U.S., with some describing it as "broken," and others calling for term limits on politicians at all levels, as well as worries about the integrity of the electoral process and the possibility for disruptive delays in counting ballots.

The accountants surveyed nonetheless overwhelmingly expected the election to lead to a stock market rally (78 percent), lower unemployment (81 percent) and an improved response to the COVID-19 pandemic, among many other positive results.

The tax impact

As accountants, some respondents naturally had opinions on the likely tax impacts of the election, and most of those who shared their thoughts believed that a Democrat victory would result in higher taxes.

"If we end up with a Democratic presidency and Democratic control of both houses, then the 2017 tax act will probably be vitiated and as much as the market increased due to the lower corporate rates, it will fall," predicted one respondent. "Ironically, raising the corporate rate will almost certainly cause less government revenue due to multinational business fleeing our shores, and less capital gains income tax income."

"Taxes are going to increase no matter who is elected," warned another accountant. "They have to, because of all the money given to aid individuals and business during the COVID-19 pandemic. If Trump is elected, the economy will continue to grow and the nation will sputter a bit, but when a vaccine is developed things will take off again and the tax increases will be lower than if Biden is elected. If Biden is elected, we can look forward to a depression comparable to the 1920s."

A third respondent, however, took a different view. "If we do not address wealth inequalities the U.S. will go further into absolute discontent. I have a hard time explaining to my lower-income clients the reason they are not getting a refund as they always did, or why they owe money. The tax reform of 2018 benefits the rich and businesses. I have nothing against that, but it must create a benefit and protect the middle class. If not, the division in this country will grow larger and larger."

(See comparisons of the presidential candidates' proposed tax policies for individuals and for businesses.)

AT-92820 Presidential Choice - CHART
That a majority of accountants should plan to vote for President Trump is no surprise — they favored him by even larger margins in 2016, and the profession has leaned heavily Republican in previous presidential elections.
AT-92820 Party Registration CHART
Accountants are more likely to be registered Republican than the average — a recent Gallup survey of Americans found that 29 percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 40 percent as independents and 30 percent as Democrats.
AT-92820 Likely election results - CHART
While most respondents believe a clean sweep for the party of their preferred presidential candidate would be best for both the accounting profession and the country overall, they overwhelmingly expect that the congressional elections will result in the Republicans maintaining control of the Senate and Democrats keeping the House.
AT-92820-Likely Impact of Election - CHART
While they don't expect their party to sweep, accountants are nonetheless extremely confident that the election returns they predict will result in a much better economic and political environment for the country.
AT-92820 Top Priorities for next administration -- CHART
"The most important issue to be addressed by the administration is working to mitigate impact of pandemic on the economy," said one respondent, and by and large accountants agreed — though registered Republicans were more likely to name the national debt as their No. 1 concern.
AT-92820- Election Worries CHART
Half of respondents think that voter fraud will be a very important issue during the elections, in many cases because they worry about mail-in ballots.

"Mass mail-in voting is designed to negatively impact the election," warned one accountant. "No logical person would allow such an opportunity for fraud."
AT-92820- Confidence in Mail-in Ballots CHART
Respondents were roughly evenly divided about the potential impact of lots of mail-in ballots, with 44 percent saying they would be not very or not at all confident in the results of such an election, and 39 percent saying they would be very or extremely confident in them.

"I have no concerns about voting by mail," said one accountant. "Here in the West we've been doing it for years and have a lower fraud, or even attempted fraud, rate than locations with traditional voting methods."
AT-92820-Mail-in ballot delays CHART
Regardless of whether they were worried about fraud with mail-in ballots, two-thirds of accountants believe that delays in processing those ballots could lead to a delay in deciding the election — and that worries many of them.

"Irrespective of who wins, I expect a long delay before a winner is known (and this will be contested by either side, and both sides will claim victory irrespective of the outcome)," said one accountant, "and civil unrest that will be violent, regardless of outcome."
AT-92820 - How accountants are voting - CHART
While a plurality plan to vote in person, substantial numbers of accountants plan to take advantage of the variety of voting methods open to them.
AT-92820- Media role in elections - CHART
When asked if they thought social media platforms and the media business were doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation and to help protect the integrity of the election, the vast majority of responding accountants said they weren't — but their direct responses suggest that they don't want media to do more, so much as to do it very, very differently.

"It is not the job of social media companies to regulate political speech," said one accountant. "It is, however, the job of our news outlets to report news without political bias and without opinion. Our country is being fed distorted news every day!"

"Social media should stay out of deciding on reliability of information," added another. "The mainstream media is so biased, their reporting is largely ignored."