One week after we published our survey asking which presidential candidate would be best for the construction industry, the results are in. The leading candidate so far, by a large margin, is Bernie Sanders.
Second to Sanders (54% of votes) was Donald Trump (16%), followed closely by Hillary Clinton (13%). Then after a steep dip was Marco Rubio (4%); Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz (2.5% each); Ben Carson, Chris Christie and John Kasich (2% each); and Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker (0.6% each). The remaining candidates received no votes.
Reasons from survey respondents
Along with choosing a candidate, we also asked survey respondents to tell us the reason they chose that particular candidate. Nearly all of the Sanders supporters referenced his $1 trillion infrastructure plan. "He's the only candidate trying hard to fix our crumbling infrastructure with a $1 trillion construction bill," one respondent said. Another wrote, "I believe his policies would benefit the middle class the most which could lead to a boom for the housing sector."
Survey respondents who chose Trump mostly referenced his business experience and history in the construction and real estate sectors. One said Trump is the "only candidate that understands construction. (He) will likely invest and also cut waste." Another respondent said, "He understands the real estate economy and small business better than anyone."
Clinton supporters expressed various reasons for selecting her as the best candidate for the industry. Several respondents addressed Clinton's support for unions. One wrote, "As a woman in the building trades the opportunity to be in a Union and get equal pay for a job is critical." Another said, "Clinton's promised policy implementation will (raise) middle class wages and job opportunities. This in turn, will result in the more disposable income to be spread across more sectors of the economy and will show itself in residential and commercial real estate sectors." Clinton was the only candidate to receive a response related to legal issues, as one person wrote, "She will do a better job of enforcing the law to create a level playing field for law-abiding construction businesses."
The remaining candidates drew varying reasons from respondents, as one said, "I think Christie has a better business acumen than the other candidates." Another said he chose Cruz because of "his attitude on taxation. He will not burden businesses with the BS taxes that the current admin has. This will free up capital to hire, invest, etc."
Trump's prominence in the survey was mostly unsurprising, as his experience in real estate and construction has captured the attention of many in the industry.
However, Sanders' dominance of the survey was unexpected, as the construction industry typically leans heavily Republican. During the 2012 presidential election cycle, the construction industry overall contributed $124,742,981 to candidates, parties and outside groups — with 72% to Republicans and 28% to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Despite the presence of Sanders and Clinton in the top three spots in our survey, many construction company owners and industry insiders have focused on some of the Republican candidates' promise of lower corporate tax rates. Earlier this month during a Teleforum event, Bush touted his positions of a lower corporate tax rate, decreased regulation, and more regulatory power in the hands of the states. Those stances drew praise from the construction industry groups and members listening in during the forum.
Most construction industry associations and groups have not yet officially endorsed a presidential candidate, with the exception of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia, which both endorsed Hillary Clinton.
We plan to leave our survey up for several weeks, so people can vote for the candidate they think would be best for the construction industry. Will Clinton's new $275 billion infrastructure proposal give her an extra boost? Which candidates will the major construction industry associations endorse? Check back in the coming weeks for updates.