Wall Street and Big Tech are betting on a #BlueWave overtaking the House this year as they continue to give more to Democratic candidates than Republicans just days before midterms.
POLITICO reported recently that Silicon Valley has given $13.4 million to Democrats but only $3.4 million to Republicans, which means Democrats are getting almost triple that of Republicans. POLITICO also reported that more than 90 percent of staff donations from major tech firms like Alphabet, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter went to Democratic candidates.
And it’s not just Big Tech: despite Democrats’ tendency to distrust Wall Street and call for more financial regulation, big Wall Street donors are giving more to Democrats than Republicans this year, according to a New York Times report.
If Democrats take the House, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will likely become chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. As a consistently outspoken critic of Wall Street and a proponent of stricter Wall Street regulations, some industry players fear she will crack down on them if they don’t get on her good side now.
While Democrats are more prone than ever to heavily regulate Silicon Valley and Wall Street given the recent string of scandals at Facebook and Google over privacy concerns and Democrats’ persistent distrust of the finance industry, backing Democrats now could be a way to mitigate some of the regulatory damage.
Tech and telecom firms have acknowledged in recent hearings that the U.S. needs some form of federal privacy standard, and various companies like AT&T and Alphabet have told Congress they are willing to work with them on legislation that works for everyone.
Silicon Valley is especially wary of consumer advocates swaying Congress — consumer-focused legislation in the European Union (EU), for example, like the GDPR and updated Copyright Directive, are extremely unpopular among U.S. tech companies.
That said, donating to candidates most likely to win could help tech companies — and finance companies — maintain some influence over the next round of tech regulations.
“Money gets you access,” said Lawrence White, professor of economics at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. “Even if it comes a Democratic Congress, and there’s financial reform regulation on the table, the Wall Street guys want to be able to talk to the staff of the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee,and just point out, here are the implications [from our end].”
The number of donations going to Democrats has less to do with who Wall Street and Silicon want in office and more to do with how they think midterms will go, he said.
In other words, they’re betting on a “Blue Wave.”
“My guess is that’s what they’re predicting,” he told InsideSources. “The question of whether Maxine Waters becomes chair of the committee is an interesting one, that would be less than ideal from the Wall Street perspective. But Waters has to carry her committee with her. The chair has a lot of power, no question about that, but she has to carry her committee with her. Having the ability to talk to people at the end of the day is really what it’s all about.”