If techies could choose the next President, Obama would win in a landslide. Checking donors from 10 large tech companies, including Apple, Dell, Google and Microsoft, over 90% of the donations support the senator from Illinois. Why does high-tech love Obama?
First the numbers The OpenSecrets.org Donor Lookup page supplied the numbers. When you make a political contribution you are required to give your employer's name.
Just pick the Presidential candidate, put in an employer name, and hit OK. Voila! All the contributors who gave that company as their employer are listed in the records.
The numbers need some cleaning. For example, if 1 person gave 3 donations, that is listed as 3 records. Also, returned donations are another record that don't indicate another donor.
I cleaned up the Obama numbers by pulling out returned donation numbers, donations from companies with similar names and some of the single donor/multiple donation records, something I didn't do for McCain because his numbers are so weak.
McCain's policies Why are in-the-know techies like Vint Cerf and YouTube founder Chad Hurley supporting Obama? Maybe it has something to do with the policies each promotes.
The most obvious tech difference between the candidates is the Obama supports net-neutrality and McCain is against it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted press reports that of the 66 current or former lobbyists working for McCain, 23 have lobbied for telcos.
As Commerce Committee chairman until last year, McCain could have pushed for aggressive broadband policies to keep the US in the forefront of Internet deployment and commerce. Instead the US is falling further behind in both speed and penetration among industrialized nations.
McCain also flip-flopped on retroactive immunity for illegal warrantless wiretapping. He was against it last year and this year offered "unqualified" support. Obama also voted for the bill, but at least he knows the Constitutional problems.
Obama's policies Besides consistent support for net-neutrality, Obama also supports a number of tech-friendly initiatives:
- Deploy next generation broadband and ensure access as we did decades ago with electricity and telephones.
- Major expansion of university-based research
- Patent system reform through PTO funding increases and citizen review.
- Scientific integrity "Obama and Biden will restore the basic principle that government decisions should be based on the best-available, scientifically-valid evidence and not on the ideological predispositions of agency officials or political appointees."
- Green energy development through a $150 billion program for biofuels, plug-in hybrids and commercial renewable energy.
The Storage Bits take Conservative columnist George Will noted McCain's ". . . impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events . . . ." If Obama loses - and I think he will - (Update: I was wrong!) the computer industry will suffer McCain's anger for their lop-sided support of Obama.
The telco's will enjoy free rein in the White House. The world's most creative and sophisticated tech innovators will be hobbled by a 3rd rate network infrastructure. Who is that good for?
Looking at the numbers, the surprising thing was how few people bothered to donate to either candidate. The 10 companies employ over 500,000 people; just over 3,000 contributed to either campaign. Wake up, people!
Comments welcome, of course. I