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Poll: Corporate reputations influenced by politics

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Republicans and Democrats differ sharply in public opinion on companies that have waded into political battles, according to a new study.

Harris Poll released its annual corporate reputations survey on Thursday.

The poll found that Republicans hold Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby in higher regard than Democrats. Democrats, meanwhile, are more likely to hold a favorable view of Target than Republicans.

{mosads}“In such divided times, as companies scurry to figure out if and how to respond to the issues and commentary of the new administration, we find that corporate reputation perceptions can be just as polarizing,” said Wendy Salomon, vice president of Harris Poll.

“Companies that have taken very public stands for their beliefs are rewarded by consumers of similar conservative or liberal views, but there is also clear risk among those who feel otherwise.”

Chick-fil-A became a magnet for controversy in 2012 for opposing gay marriage. The Harris Poll found the company’s reputational quotient is 17.4 points higher among Republicans, who say the company is “excellent,” compared to Democrats, who have only a “good” view of the company.

The margin is almost exactly the same for Hobby Lobby, which prevailed in its Supreme Court case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that companies cover birth control for their employees.

Conversely, Democrats have a better view of Target by 11 points — “very good” compared to “fair” for Republicans. Last year, the company said it would allow transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

“Values play a bigger role than ever before in corporate reputation, and the business significance of a company’s reputation has never been higher,” said Mark Penn, whose Stagwell Group runs The Harris Poll. “Consumers are keenly interested in how companies engage with the world, and that includes corporate ideals. As the red versus blue duel of politics impacts corporate reputation, we expect to see more alignment along party beliefs.”

Overall, the poll found that the companies with the best reputational scores are Amazon, Wegmans, Publix, Johnson & Johnson and Apple.

The bottom five in the list of 100 are Halliburton, Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and Takata.

The Harris Poll of 23,633 respondents was conducted between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6. 

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