Small business owners are much more pessimistic than the average voter about the national economy and Washington’s attempts to solve problems, according to a new poll.

The survey, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, also showed that small business owners are among the most motivated about this fall's elections.

According to the survey of 1,000 small business owners, 78 percent of respondents say that the U.S. economy will either remain stagnant or get worse over the next year. This is a gloomier assessment than the 64 percent of adult voters who answered the same way in an August 10 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Also, two-thirds of small business owners (65 percent) say government is doing too much that is better left to businesses and individuals, compared to 49 percent of general voters. Respondents are more interested in the November elections than the general population by a 75 percent to 70 percent margin.

“This poll reveals that there is a lot of fear among business owners in this current economic climate," said U.S. Chamber executive vice president Lisa Rickard in a statement.

The survey also shows that lawsuits are a major concern for small business owners and an obstacle to economic growth. Seventy eight percent say that if Congress passes laws allowing trial lawyers to bring more lawsuits, it would have a negative impact on the economic climate affecting their businesses. In addition, 92 percent say the poor economy has made it more difficult for their company to absorb the additional costs, time, and other issues related to a lawsuit.

"Our economy is in trouble and lawsuits are only making matters worse for America's small business owners and the communities that rely on them to create jobs," Rickard said. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating two-thirds of all new jobs in the United States, yet many small businesses hold a startlingly grim assessment of their futures."

The poll showed that 32 percent of business owners say they are not confident in the future of their own company. Additionally, approximately 7 in 10 small business owners say that a lawsuit or the potential for a lawsuit translates to increased costs that would make businesses like theirs hold back on hiring, cut back on existing employees' benefits, and pass costs on to their customers.

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