Thanks to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), lots of tech junkies have become politics junkies, too. For that reason, we decided to figure out which candidates got the most money from the technology industry in 2011.
It’s part of the Federal Elections Commission’s job to let us know which companies are donating to which political candidates. The FEC’s 2011 report, released in December, is chock-full of useful data. We found the info we needed by using the tools on OpenSecrets.org, a research group dedicated to “tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.”
Note that companies don’t give money directly to campaigns. Rather, these numbers reflect contributions given by employees and political action committees (PACs) affiliated with tech companies.
As it turns out, only three of the presidential hopefuls in 2012 have received a substantial proportion of their total largesses from the tech industry, labeled “Computers/Internet” on OpenSecrets: Ron Paul (with $166,764), Mitt Romney ($392,400) and Barack Obama ($1,338,109).
Of the six Republicans and one Democrat running for president in 2012, only these three can count the tech industry amongst the top 20 sectors that contributed to their campaigns.
During the 2008 election, the tech industry gave $9 million to Barack Obama’s eventually victorious campaign. With 11 campaign (and fundraising) months to go before Election Day, it’s yet to be determined if Silicon Valley will match or exceed that amount for Obama’s 2012 presidential bid.
Which tech giant is the biggest contributor to political campaigns? Microsoft, by leaps and bounds.
Microsoft-affiliated PACs and employees of the company gave President Obama a total of $171,073 last year. Ron Paul and Mitt Romney also benefited from some Microsoft cash, accepting $13,398 and $12,500 respectively. Microsoft PACs and employees also topped the Democratic National Committee’s list of donors at $196,400.
Next up, there’s Google. The Mountain View, CA-based company has given Barack Obama $95,066 through employees and PACs for the 2012 election cycle. Ron Paul took $10,390 of Google’s money as well.
Cisco Systems and Intel take the number-three and -four spots on the list. They gave $276,726 and $261,125, respectively, to federal candidates, parties and “outside groups” last year.
Over 80% of the tech industry’s political contributions are made through individuals. Most of the rest are given through PACs, which are private organizations that advance political candidates or issues.
The technology industry leans Democratic. Tech companies gave the Democratic National Committee $2,720,774, but did not award enough to the Republican National Committee to appear as a “Top Industry” contributor. Sixty-six-percent of tech contributions are for Democrats, while 34% are for Republican candidates.
It’s important to note, as TV funnymen Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart have been shrewdly parodying, that some PACs can choose not to report the names of contributors, making their contributions impossible to trace.
Do these results surprise you? Which candidate do you think is the most “tech-friendly?” Let us know in the comments below.