Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making inroads in Silicon Valley while President Obama is falling out of favor in some tech circles. How will this affect the presidential race?
Obama’s presidential re-election campaign continues to rake in huge numbers, but Romney’s super PAC is gaining steam in Silicon Valley just as Obama’s donor pool in the tech epicenter dwindles.
The president held successful fundraisers this year in California’s Silicon Valley, but the number of tech sector donors to his campaign is smaller than the first time around, and overall, his campaign is $1 million short, compared to 2008 election cycle figures.
One major defector is Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of Netscape, who donated a large sum to Obama’s campaign in 2008. This time around, he donated $100,000 to Romney’s super PAC.
Silicon Valley generally leans left, but a number of tech scions are frustrated by Obama’s decisions to push for increased regulation. Tech companies are trying to assert themselves in Washington to avoid stringent regulations, with Facebook funding its own PAC to gain more political influence.
Even though he was vocally opposed to SOPA and PIPA, Obama’s regulation policies coupled with his pushes for increased taxes for the wealthy, are alienating some tech bigwigs. People like Andreessen look at Romney’s business background and see a candidate less apt to push regulation and more lenient on taxes.
Since government regulation is on the minds of all major tech players, how they give speaks to how they want the government to oversee their business moves. The upswing in Romney contributions indicates more tech giants are hoping for a Republican-controlled White House.
Romney is definitely making inroads, and there’s no doubt Silicon Valley’s support for Obama is far more tempered this time around. At the same time, Obama is still more popular in the Californian tech hub than Romney, and the area will likely still vote blue come Election Day.
Obama probably doesn’t have to worry about losing California, but the fact that an influential sector of society that formerly supported him enthusiastically is splintering off may be a bellwether for how other powerful groups will treat the re-election campaign — and how they will vote.