Political Animal


November 28, 2012 3:46 PM The Business Constituency That Hates Republicans

By Ed Kilgore

Nate Silver has a remarkable post up today showing that the pro-Democratic proclivities of the tech community and the geographical areas dominated by it have reached really astounding levels that probably explain why the Romney campaign was outgunned badly in GOTV technology.

It’s most notable, of course, in Silicon Valley and in the entire Bay Area of California, where Obama won by a 49 point margin (the same as his margin in 2008), reflecting a steady trend that begin after 1980, when Ronald Reagan actually carried the Bay Area.

It’s also reflected in the overwhelming percentage of political donations going to Democrats from employees of major tech companies, and not just in California:

Over all, among the 10 American-based information technology companies on the Forbes list of “most admired companies,” Mr. Obama raised 83 percent of the funds between the two major party candidates.
Mr. Obama’s popularity among the staff at these companies holds even for those which are not headquartered in California. About 81 percent of contributions at Microsoft, which is headquartered in Redmond, Wash., went to Mr. Obama. So did 77 percent of those at I.B.M., which is based in Armonk, N.Y.

And that brings the matter full circle to the use of technology in the two campaigns:

If Democrats have the support of 80 percent or 90 percent of the best and brightest minds in the information technology field, then it shouldn’t be surprising that Mr. Obama’s information technology infrastructure was viewed as state-of-the-art exemplary, whereas everyone from Republican volunteers to Silicon Valley journalists have critiqued Mr. Romney’s systems. Mr. Romney’s get-out-the-vote application, Project Orca, is widely viewed as having failed on Election Day, perhaps contributing to a disappointing Republican turnout.

And beyond that, the attitudes of the tech industry should also make a mockery of the idea that Republicans have the overwhelming support of “makers” and “innovators” in the U.S. private sector. Mitt Romney’s good buddies in the coal industry ain’t exactly the wave of the economic future.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • exlibra on November 28, 2012 4:06 PM:

    They don't have to have the support of the majority of the info industry to win the next time; all they really need is a couple of really good techies, to hack and "fix" the voting machines...

  • c u n d gulag on November 28, 2012 4:08 PM:

    On the other hand, the Republicans got the votes of all of the banjo-pickin' "Deliverance" kids in the South.


  • sick-n-effin-tired on November 28, 2012 4:19 PM:

    and also check this about Orca . I don't usually by into conspiracy theories...but this one gives me pause


  • paul on November 28, 2012 4:44 PM:

    This is what happens when you ditch reality-based approaches in favor of top-down management by power. First, all the people who have to live with reality hate you. Second, any of your projects that require reality-based approaches fail miserably.

    Everyone who has been anywhere near the tech side of the business world knows what happens when guys (and yeah, it almost always seems to be guys) in expensive suits set the budgets and the deadlines based on lowest-bidder and gut feelings, and dismiss anyone who warns of trouble as "not a team player."

    But the same people who thought we'd be greeted with roses in Baghdad apparently thought that Orca would be bug-free the first day it was rolled out full scale. Because of the power of their will.

  • Rick B on November 28, 2012 5:11 PM:

    The people in tech companies understand that the guys at the top of the bureaucratic hierarchy are not the sole arbiters of thought, planning and good ideas. In fact the best and most valuable people in an organization are those who have the best understanding of the organization. The guys in the hierarchy, however, have the power to implement the good ideas. (The real idea people rarely have the time or energy to waste gathering and using power over others.)

    Tech organizations are not factories. The American factory model of organization goes back a century to a time when factories were owned by native English-speaking Americans and the workers were, for the most part immigrants who often spoke another language as their first (and sometimes only) language. The role of owner and master devolved in those circumstances on the CEO and the executive committee because wielding power was what mattered.

    If your best tech people were trained in India, this just isn't the case anymore, and the guys at the top have to listen to the foreigners in order to succeed - even survive - in a highly competitive business environment. How does an anti-immigrant right-winger listen to the foreigners? The guys in the factory hierarchy don't even have social ways of communication upwards in the hierarchy. How do they tell the boss he is screwing up? Tech companies have somewhat solved this problem.

    The factories are part of America's pre-urban culture, a culture that the conservatives want to preserve and impress on the cities. The tech companies are part of the new urban intellectual and educated culture.

  • NealB on November 28, 2012 6:48 PM:

    A lot of us don't really care for Obama or Romney, Democrats or Republicans. Global temperatures are rising. It's a problem. A problem Republicans have said they're against solving. Democrats at least may be influenced to give a shit. That's the difference. So many things smarter politicians could make use of. So many things stupider ones won't. Mr. Obama's not very bright, come right down to it. But he's smart enough to let smarter guys than him get him re-elected. Maybe he'll come through and use his power to do the right thing about global warming. Probably not. But re-electing Obama was better than permitting a troglodyte like Romney to hasten demise.

  • castanea on November 28, 2012 10:03 PM:

    "Mr. Obama's not very bright..."

    It's comments such as these that make me doubt the intelligence of the commenter.

    Not very bright? Really? What have you accomplished in life?

    You got the answers? I'd love to hear how you are going to get off your butt and put them into action.

    I'd love to hear how you are going to solve the problems we face, and how you'd do so if put in Obama's (or any politician's) shoes and face America's ignorant electorate, obstinate opposition party, and corporate media.

    Honestly, the left in this country can be just as stupid and unrealistic as any north Idaho politician hoping to tilt the election toward Romney by using a non-existent constitutional exception.

    We have critics out the ass in America. What we have a dearth of are people who have workable solutions and a sound strategy for getting them accepted.

  • maryQ on November 28, 2012 10:37 PM:

    "Mitt Romney’s good buddies in the coal industry ain’t exactly the wave of the economic future"
    Well said.

  • emjayay on November 28, 2012 10:41 PM:

    I too have to disagree with NealB about Obama's relative brightness. But NealB's overall message is correct. Obama may be a smart guy, but is very, very cautious. In his second term, he has the opportunity to step out with some real creative and analytical thought and ideas about the enormous problems we face. But we all I think expect just more possibly practical. incremental but certainly not game changing compromise. I'm prepared to be disappointed, beginning with the current budget and taxes stuff.