Family members of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney play with balloons on stage after Gov. Romney accepted the Republican nomination at the Republican National Convention on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. - 

Presidential debates like last night are designed to help voters decide who to support, but if you run a small business that does political work, more often than not, you’ve got to pick sides too.

At one time, DHM Research was one of the premiere polling companies in the Pacific Northwest. Adam Davis, who co-owns DHM Research a Portland, Oregon-based polling firm, says there was only one problem -- not enough money was rolling in, “we wanted a more steady business and we said enough is enough and made a commitment from that point on we are going to be independent and non-partisan.” To grow, the firm all but abandoned political polling.

Small business consultant Gene Marks says even firms that have nothing to do with a candidate’s message need to be partisan, “the way that the trend is going is you are going to choose a political party and say we are going to cater our products and services to you and that’s going to be our market.”

But the dividing line disappears at some point. Alisha Preston works as a senior advisor to political campaigns, “money is the mother’s milk of politics, we don’t spend it irresponsibly.” Preston says when it comes to hiring a sound company or caterers for an election night party, a campaign just wants the most bang for the buck.

Follow Dan Gorenstein at @dmgorenstein