A survey of American finance executives, released just before the two parties' national conventions in August, found that 71% preferred to see Republican Sen. John McCain win the presidency this November, compared to just 13% who preferred Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (6% said it would make no difference who won and 10% didn't care for either one). Of course, finance and treasury executives–a tiny demographic–won't play much of a role in choosing the nation's leader, and the broader polls to date suggest a much closer race between the two tickets, so the question those executives probably should be asking now is what the election of one of them as president will likely mean for the country, and for their companies' prospects.

The Financial Executives International (FEI) survey found that the biggest concerns finance executives had for their companies were anemic U.S. economic growth (48%), high oil prices (34.8%), lagging consumer spending and demand (29%) and inflation (25.3%). Well below these issues were health care costs (10.9%), the sagging dollar (10%) and costs of regulatory compliance (7.2%), though it's a fair bet treasurers–who weren't interviewed for the survey–as a group, rate the credit crisis and better regulation of the financial markets and rating agencies high on their list, especially after the heart-stopping crisis of mid-September.

There is some common ground between the two presidential candidates–for example, both have been calling for tougher regulation of financial markets, and both are supporters of Sarbanes-Oxley, though McCain is clearly a late-hour convert to the concept. There are also some striking differences between the philosophies and the economic strategies of the two candidates, particularly on taxes, and laws and regulations relating to labor organizing–with Obama (and most Democratic candidates for Congress) supporting a labor movement call for making the signing of union cards, not an election, all that is needed for workers to win the right to have a union at a workplace.

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