Interesting new data from Open Secrets, which tallies the top donors to the presidential candidates (note: these are not corporate donations, but money from PACs, as well as from individuals and their families associated with these institutions). Here are Barack Obama’s top five contributors:
1. University of California — $703,781
2. Microsoft — $544,445
3. Google Inc — $526,009
4. Harvard University — $431,860
5. U.S. Government — $396,550
Peruse the top 20 and this trend holds. In addition to Harvard and the University of California system, schools like Stanford, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan also populate the list. On the tech side, Microsoft and Google are joined by IBM (there are also a few big media companies — Time Warner and Comcast). And in government, the State Department alone is responsible for over $200,000 in contributions.
Higher ed and the permanent governing class in Washington are so thoroughly suffused with liberalism that their inclinations should be taken as a given. But conservatives would be foolish to give up on Silicon Valley, where the regnant mores are sufficiently libertarian for Republicans to win converts through a sustained emphasis on free markets (it’s no coincidence that Ron Paul was a huge hit there).
The tech industry’s lifeblood is freedom: freedom to experiment, collaborate, and innovate — which means sooner or later they should realize that the party of 2,000 page laws and dictatorial bureaucracy is not for them. But should doesn’t necessarily mean will. One need only look to African-American voters to realize that political parties can win demographics they consistently neglect if the other side doesn’t even bother competing. The GOP (quite literally) can’t afford to let that happen in Silicon Valley.