Clinton vs. Trump: Where They Stand on Technology

Silicon Valley is spending millions more for Joe Biden than it did for Hillary Clinton

Clinton vs. Trump: Where They Stand on Technology
Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton were both backed by the tech industry. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Silicon Valley is spending far more money to oust Donald Trump in 2020 than it did in 2016, a testament to the new political muscle that the tech industry has flexed over the last four years. And the money is not just from its billionaires.

The tech industry did spend big to support Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But Trump was merely a candidate then, without a track record of tangible policy changes on immigration, climate change, or other issues that concern the tech industry.

And Silicon Valley did not have the years of preparation to start new groups, raise big money, and mobilize its energy in the sophisticated ways that it has had in the runup to 2020.

And so this time around, Silicon Valley — led by this billionaire class and its captains of industry — has plunged even deeper into the world of partisan campaigning, according to a Recode analysis of extensive campaign-finance data. The exact amount depends on how you define Silicon Valley, but more money has been marshaled to back Joe Biden than was raised to back Clinton, no matter how you measure it.

Ken Duda, a software executive who has spent millions of dollars on this election, said he has spent three times as much as he did in 2016 to beat Trump this cycle. Duda described himself as politically moderate and not a news obsessive but said he was deeply concerned because he believes Trump is leading the country into an “autocracy.”

“I would be very happy to go back to ignoring politics I did before 2016,” he told Recode. “I hope to put away after this election, and my political donations will go away along with that. That’s my hope.”

This rise in Democratic giving is all happening against a backdrop of tension between the party and its donors from the tech industry who increasingly fund it.

The Democratic Party has gotten far tougher on tech companies and its leaders over this four-year period — even debating a potential breakup of these giants — and despite being the beneficiary of its money, Biden himself has said that he’ll keep on scrutinizing Silicon Valley.

Coming up with a distinct definition for what qualifies as “Silicon Valley” — whether it’s a physical place, an industry, both, or something more thematic — is challenging. So for this analysis, Recode worked with data-analysis outfitter GovPredict to run three different analyses on three different (even if all imperfect) windows into total Silicon Valley donations:

  • Contributions by people who live in the San Francisco Bay Area zip codes
  • Contributions by people who describe themselves as a “software engineer” or working in “venture capital”
  • Contributions by people who describe themselves as working for , Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Apple, or Alphabet (or its subsidiaries, Google or )

All of these analyses looked at the total donations to the Biden, Clinton, and Trump campaigns; the Democratic and Republican National Committees; joint fundraising committees between their campaigns and their parties; and major super PACs supporting their campaigns. All contributions from the beginning of the year before the election and up to three weeks before Election Day were included.

To some extent, Silicon Valley is doing nothing unusual. 2020 is by far the most expensive election cycle, adjusted for inflation — costing more than twice as much as the runner-up, the 2016 race. But the new money reflects how Silicon Valley is increasingly turning its financial power into political power that could persist after Election Day.

Bay Area

People who live in the nine counties considered to be in the San Francisco Bay Area gave 22 percent more to Democrats in 2020 than they did in 2016, a jump from about $163 million to $199 million. (Those figures include money given in both cycles to super PACs by Democratic megadonor and San Franciscan Tom Steyer, who is not in tech but who donated tens of millions in both 2016 and 2020.)

Gifts to the GOP from the Bay Area, where Republicans are few and far between, rose more dramatically, albeit from a far smaller base: After giving $800,000 to Republicans in 2016, Bay Area residents gave $22 million to boost Trump in 2020, a haul that came from figures Oracle CEO Safra Catz.


If you look at tech by choosing two common job descriptions — venture capitalist and software engineer — you can also see the new energy on the left.

This group gave $7.2 million to Democrats in 2016. Four years later, that sum had almost tripled to $19 million. Republican donations from this slice of Silicon Valley also grew by about threefold but once again from a smaller base — from almost $700,000 to $2 million.

Big Tech companies

Lastly, one easy, simple way to measure “Silicon Valley” is to look at its biggest, most iconic companies, including Google, Apple, , Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix.

Big Tech employees are giving far more in the Trump-Biden race than they did in the Trump-Clinton race. Donations to Democratic efforts jumped from about $8.5 million to about $14 million, growing by nearly 70 percent.

Meanwhile, donations to back Trump from Big Tech employees almost quintupled — from just about $180,000 to $850,000.

That’s despite Trump’s frequently blasting these donors’ employers, including in the final days of the campaign.

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From The Economy To Race, See Where The Candidates Stand On The Big Issues

Clinton vs. Trump: Where They Stand on Technology
Eva Bee/Getty Images/Ikon Images

This election has been particularly noisy.

But when all the storms and heated exchanges (maybe) fade away after Nov. 8, the issues that affect real voters will remain.

With that in mind, we set out to create a cheat sheet on where each candidate stands on the issues voters care about most. The issues we chose to highlight come from the top 10 issues voters said were “very important” to their vote, according to a 2016 poll from the Pew Research Center.

Those issues are, in order: The economy, terrorism, foreign policy, health care, gun policy, immigration, social security, education, Supreme Court appointments and the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.

We've tracked where the major candidates — Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — fall on each issue. We chose these four candidates because they are on the ballot in most states.

We've categorized each candidate's stance in various subcateories with a yes or a no, if it truly was that simple. Some were given an “it's complicated” rating, meaning that the candidate hasn't put forth a plan, commented publicly or has changed positions.

We will continue to update their stances as they evolve. Is there a subcategory you'd to see but don't? E-mail us at

Economy / Terrorism / Foreign Policy / Health / Gun Policy / Immigration / Social Security / Education / Supreme Court Appointments / The Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities

The Economy

Though the country as a whole has recovered in the eight years since the 2008 recession, many parts of the country are still struggling. Partly for that reason, economic policy continues to be a major theme on the campaign trail. Candidates have sparred over the role that the tax code should play in economic growth, how to solve the social security problem and more.


With several high-profile terror attacks happening within the last year — including the December shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. — thwarting terrorism has been a common topic this election cycle.

Donald Trump's extreme proposals in particular — from condoning waterboarding to what he calls “extreme vetting” of refugees — have largely fueled the discussion, causing other candidates to respond.

Foreign Policy

Foreign policy as a topic is a bit of a catch-all, as it deals with the United States' relationship with other countries.

It covers everything from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of Trump's most commonly evoked foes, to the Iran nuclear deal, to U.S. participation in NATO.

When it comes to what America's role in the world should be, Trump, Johnson and Stein all take more isolationist approaches than Clinton.


The health of the candidates themselves came up this fall — with Clinton's b pneumonia in September and Trump saying Clinton lacks the stamina to be president — but health care as a policy issue itself hasn't been a frequent talking point during the election. The Affordable Care Act and abortion have remained top of mind and paid family leave has recently received some attention, but other issues, the opioid addiction crisis, have come up less often.

Gun Policy

Gun policy has been a big issue this year, amplified after the June shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that killed 49 people. Clinton has been a strong advocate for tighter gun laws, which Trump has said, falsely, means she wants to “take your guns away.”


Immigration has been one of the most visible campaign issues this election cycle, partly because of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Also, because Trump entered the race in June 2015 declaring that Mexico was sending drug dealers, criminals and rapists to the United States and proposed building awall between the two countries.

Trump has stood by that proposal, advocating throughout his campaign for a tight border. Other candidates vary in their stances on refugees and on illegal immigration.

Social Security

As the baby boomers age, social security will continue to be top of mind as voters choose the next president. Candidates have proposed several scenarios to solve the problem of social security — that soon there will be too many people using it and not enough people paying in. Those proposals include raising the retirement age and increasing taxes.


Education affects just about everyone — if you don't know a child in school, you certainly used to be one. But other than occasional talk of teachers, school choice or college debt, this issue has been nearly nonexistent during the 2016 election cycle, in comparison to more high profile topics immigration and gun control.

Supreme Court Appointments

Antonin Scalia's death last February vacated the Supreme Court justice's seat on the bench and ignited a fight between Republicans and Democrats over whether or not the seat should be filled during an election year.

Both sides of the aisle hope to fill the void with a judge whose views align with their own party.

President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland, a moderate, but it's unly the open seat will be filled before the inauguration of the next president in January.

The Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities

The relationship between police and communities of color has been a huge theme on the campaign trail, but in very partisan ways. Trump has focused on supporting law enforcement and earned the support of the country's largest police union. Clinton, on the other hand, supports Black Lives Matter and has called for increased scrutiny and training for police.

Clinton vs. Trump: Where They Stand on Technology

Clinton vs. Trump: Where They Stand on Technology

The seemingly interminable 2016 election comes to a close tomorrow night (hopefully). And while most of us have probably made up our minds by now (right?), perhaps there are a few tech-savvy types who are on the fence between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Hey, it could happen.

For the most part, Silicon Valley has given Trump a cool reception, save for Peter Thiel and maybe Palmer Luckey.

The most substantive debate the two have had on a tech-related issue was September's exchange about state-sponsored cyber attacks.

You can read the entire back-and-forth here, but this was when Trump suggested that the DNC hacks were perhaps carried out by “someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” and called the Internet “the cyber,” so yeah.

Clinton, meanwhile, has spent much of her campaign fielding questions about her private email server, the details of which appear to be making headlines until the very last minute.

So while it appears that neither candidate is exactly a tech genius, they do have some ideas on issues concerning the industry. Read on for a rundown of a few things on which both candidates have weighed in.


As she outlined in an exhaustive policy paper, Clinton wants to expand on President Obama's Cybersecurity National Action Plan. She supports having a federal Chief Information Security Advisor, the modernization of federal IT systems, and upgrades to government-wide cybersecurity.

That includes multi-factor authentication for federal systems, the use of tools such as government bug bounties, and a “government red teams” that will work to ID and fix bugs before hackers exploit them.

Clinton “supports expanded investment in cybersecurity technologies, as well as public-private collaboration on cybersecurity innovation, responsible information sharing on cyber threats, and accelerated adoption of best practices.”

Trump says “improving cyber security will be an immediate and top priority for my administration.

” He will direct the Justice Department to “create a joint task force” with federal, state, and local law enforcement “to crush this still-developing area of crime.

” A “cyber-review team” will also audit existing government IT systems and establish a training program for government employees.

Visas for Skilled Workers

“Far too often, we require talented persons from other countries who are trained in US universities to return home, rather than stay in here and continue to contribute to our economy,” Clinton says on her campaign website.

She's in favor of giving green cards to those who earn STEM masters and PhDs from accredited institutions. She would also issue startup visas to international entrepreneurs who start businesses in the US, provided they get financial backing from US VCs and create a certain number of jobs.

She has voiced concern, however, about US companies that hire foreign workers just to save money, even if a US worker is available.

During a March 3 debate, Trump said “we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country,” when asked about the H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers.

He later said that “the H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration,” but instead serves to import foreign workers who can be paid less. “I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse.

” US companies should be required “to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” he said.

Internet Freedom

As Secretary of State, Clinton identified Internet freedom as a major policy principle for the US. As president, “she will oppose efforts to block or degrade Internet access or to shut down social media, and she will stand with -minded countries against efforts by countries China or Russia to create a balkanized Internet run by governments.”

During a December debate, Trump said he was open to closing parts of the Internet. “I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don't want to let people who want to kill us and kill our nation use our Internet,” Trump said. “ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet and it was our idea.”

Net Neutrality

President Obama, Clinton has been a strong supporter of net neutrality. “The government has an obligation to protect the open Internet,” she says. Clinton vows to defend the FCC's rules in court and continue to enforce them.

many of his fellow Republicans, Trump is not a fan of the FCC's net neutrality rules. After President Obama pushed the agency to reclassify broadband as a telecom service in November 2014, Trump tweeted that the move was “another top-down power grab.”

Obama's attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014

Computer Science Education

Clinton backs President Obama's push to offer more computer science classes in US schools, and wants to train an additional 50,000 computer science teachers in the next 10 years. She also supports grants that would allow for innovative approaches to STEM education, such as makerspaces, robotics competitions, and after-school programs.

When asked by how we prepare students for 21st century jobs, particularly those in STEM, Trump did not directly answer the question, instead arguing that control of schools should be at the state and federal level, not in the hands of the Education Department.

Internet Governance

Hillary Clinton
Clinton supports handing over control of the Web's governing body to the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The transition, which occurred on Oct.

1, ends Commerce Department oversight that was intended to be temporary but has dragged on for years. Clinton says she views the transition “as a critical step towards safeguarding the Internet's openness for future generations.

Donald Trump
“Internet freedom will be lost for good” if the transition happens, Trump argued prior to the switch. “There will be no way to make [the Internet] great again once it is lost,” according to a spokesman, who pushed Congress to intervene.


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