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A separate survey last week by Discover Card Financial Services of 750 business owners with fewer than five employees found that 51 percent plan to vote for a Republican candidate, compared with 38 percent for a Democrat.

“The Republican Party comes out on top when it comes to which political party is better at understanding the needs of small-business owners,” said Ryan Scully, director of Discover’s business credit cards.

Complicating the picture is the sharp, public dispute between the Obama administration and the nation’s leading business group. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose members include businesses of all sizes, has spent heavily this year on campaigns - mostly for Republican candidates.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses also has overwhelmingly favored Republicans in this cycle, including the GOP challengers to such top Democrats as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank in Massachusetts.

Keith Girard, author of the Business Intelligence blog at, said the business lobbies may have gone too far this cycle. The site is produced by Dun & Bradstreet.

“Small-business owners are far from monolithic in their political affiliation or their political views,” he wrote last week. “The Chamber and conservative groups like the NFIB may have gone overboard in pursuing a political, rather than a small-business, agenda in the current elections.”

Mr. Obama has tried to appeal to small-business owners since the start of his presidency in January 2009, roughly three months after the banking meltdown froze credit and prevented small businesses from getting loans.

The president last month signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act, which was created to expand lending and includes $33 billion in tax-incentive programs. He continues into the final days of the election cycle to try to win their votes for Democratic candidates.

Perhaps no other Republican candidate this election cycle has tried to win over small-business owners like Carly Fiorina, who is attempting to oust three-term Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat.

Ms. Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard chief executive officer, has compiled a six-page jobs-creation plan that includes the elimination of the capital-gains tax on small-business investments and a two-year holiday on payroll taxes for small businesses that hire unemployed workers.