Silicon Valley spends a lot more money to oust Donald Trump in 2020 than in 2016, testifying to the new political muscle the technology industry has flexed over the past four years. And the money isn’t just from their billionaires.
The technology industry spent a lot to support Hillary Clinton in 2016. But Trump was only a candidate then, with no trace of tangible changes in immigration policy, climate change, or other issues concerning the technology industry. the technology. And Silicon Valley hasn’t had years of preparation to start new groups, raise big money, and mobilize their energy in sophisticated ways which he had in preparation for 2020.
And so this time around, Silicon Valley – led by this billionaire class and its industry captains – it has delved even deeper into the world of partisan campaigns, according to a Recode analysis of extensive campaign finance data. The exact amount depends on how Silicon Valley is defined, but more money has been raised to support Joe Biden than has been raised to support Clinton, no matter how it is measured.
Ken Duda, a software executive who spent millions of dollars on this election, he said he spent three times more than in 2016 to beat Trump in this cycle. Duda described himself as politically moderate and not obsessive news, but said he was deeply concerned because he believes Trump is leading the country into an “autocracy.”
“I would be very happy to return to ignoring the policy as early as 2016,” he told Recode. “I hope to put Twitter away after this election, and my political donations will go with that. It’s my hope.”
This growth in democratic donation occurs all in a context of tension between the party and its technology industry donors who fund it more and more. The Democratic Party has become much tougher for technology companies and their leaders in this four-year period – even debating a potential breakup of these giants – and despite the benefit of his money, Biden himself has said he will continue to scrutinize Silicon Valley.
Coming up with a distinct definition for what qualifies as “Silicon Valley” – whether it’s a physical place, an industry, either, or something more thematic – is challenging. So for this analysis, Recode worked with the data analysis provider GovPredict to do three different analyzes on three different (though all imperfect) windows in total Silicon Valley donations:
- Contributions from people living in the zip codes of the San Francisco Bay Area
- Contributions from people who describe themselves as “software engineers” or who work in “venture capital”
- Contributions from people who describe themselves as working for Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Apple, or Alphabet (or their affiliates, Google, or YouTube)
All of these analyzes looked at total donations to the Biden, Clinton, and Trump campaigns; the National Democratic and Republican Committees; joint fundraising committees between their campaigns and their parties; and the major super PACs that support their campaigns. All contributions from the beginning of the year before the election and up to three weeks before election day are included.
To some extent, Silicon Valley does nothing unusual. 2020 is by far the most expensive election cycle, adapted for inflation – costing more than twice as much as second place, the 2016 race. But the new money reflects how Silicon Valley is increasingly transforming its financial power into political power that could persist after election day.
People living in the nine counties considered to be in San Francisco Bay have given 22 percent more to Democrats in 2020 than in 2016, a jump from about $ 163 million to $ 199 million. (These figures include money given in both cycles to the super PACs by Democratic megadonor and San Francisco-based Tom Steyer, who is not into technology but who donated tens of millions in both 2016 and 2020.)
Gifts to the GOP from the Bay Area, where Republicans are few and far between, have increased dramatically, albeit from a much smaller base: After giving $ 800,000 to Republicans in 2016, the Bay residents have been given $ 22 million to bolster Trump by 2020, a move that comes from figures like Oracle CEO Safra Catz.
If you look at technology by choosing two common job descriptions – venture capitalist and software engineer – you can also see the new energy on the left.
This group gave $ 7.2 million to Democrats in 2016. Four years later, that amount had nearly tripled to $ 19 million. Republican donations from this part of Silicon Valley have also grown about three times, but again from a smaller base – from nearly $ 700,000 to $ 2 million.
Big Tech Company
Finally, an easy and simple way to measure “Silicon Valley” is to look at its largest, most iconic companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix.
Big Tech employees give a lot more in the Trump-Biden race than they did in the Trump-Clinton race. Donations to democratic efforts have jumped from about $ 8.5 million to about $ 14 million, up nearly 70 percent. Meanwhile, donations to support Trump from Big Tech employees have nearly quintupled – from just about $ 180,000 to $ 850,000. Although Trump has often exploited the owners of these donors, including in the last days of the campaign.
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