Statistical it-boy Nate Silver has done what he does best and turned his always on-point analysis on the Bay Area's tech industry. Over on his FiveThirtyEight blog today, Silver debriefs the Republican party on why the Romney campaign's IT efforts flopped and why conservatives could stand to nominate a candidate who plays well with Silicon Valley companies and San Francisco values.
Although the Bay Area has long been known as a liberal stronghold, it wasn't just the 84 percent democratic vote in San Francisco proper or the 49-point margin that Obama won across the Bay Area that propelled the President to re-election. Indeed, California would have probably gone Blue even without the Bay Area's vote, Silver notes. Instead, these numbers matter for a broader reason:
The reason is that Democrats’ strength in the region is hard to separate out from the growth of its core industry — information technology - and the advantage that having access to the most talented individuals working in the field could provide to Democratic campaigns.
By the numbers, 97% of employees at Google who made political contributions this year donated to the Obama campaign, to the tune of $720,000. Compare that to the $25,000 raised by Romney supporters within the Googleplex. Likewise, political-minded Apple employees donated 91% of their campaign support dollars to Obama. Even among tech companies outside of Silicon Valley like IBM and Microsoft, about 80% of political contributions went to Obama. If we assume those people who are willing to donate to a campaign are also more likely to work for the campaign, it's not hard to see that the Romney campaign didn't have nearly as much tech support in the 2012 campaign as the President's re-election effort. And it showed too: Obama's IT infrastructure was lauded as the President's secret weapon, whereas Romney's Project Orca get-out-the-vote app was seen as a huge flop that should never have made it to the Beta stage.
The takeaway? Republicans need to get hip — not only to technology, but to tech industry culture in general. Or, as Silver puts it: "Perhaps a different type of Republican candidate, one whose views on social policy are more in line with the tolerant and multicultural values of the Bay Area, and the youthful cultures of the leading companies here, could gather more support among information technology professionals."