Netflix’s Reed Hastings.
Ernesto S. Ruscio | Getty Images
With four months to go until the 2020 elections, employees at tech companies are ramping up their political donations, and sending the vast majority of that money to Democrats.
The tech industry has long leaned left, but President Donald Trump’s policies on immigration and trade, coupled with his responses to the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests against police violence, have created an even wider partisan imbalance than in the past.
Tech employees not only strongly favor Joe Biden, the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee for president, but they’re also funneling money to Democratic candidates in competitive congressional races, particularly in the Senate, where the Republican majority is now at risk. One reason for the big disparity between the donations is that tech workers were donating to the many candidates in the Democratic presidential primaries, while Trump ran virtually uncontested.
Among the 17 U.S. tech companies valued at $100 billion or more, employees at Netflix are the most liberal based on fundraising data, with 98% of their donations going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets website. Qualcomm is the most conservative, with a 50-50 split that very narrowly favors Republicans.
Below is a ranking of those companies, from most liberal to most conservative.
(Campaign finance laws restrict individual donations to $2,800 per election, or $5,600 between the primary and general election.)
Democrats – $340,485 (98%), Republicans – $7,124 (2%)
This is nothing new for Netflix. Employees at the video-streaming company sent 98% of their donations to Democrats in 2016 and 99.6% in the 2018 midterm elections. The biggest individual recipients of Netflix employee funds for this cycle were Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the primary. Then comes Biden, followed by Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings donated to Buttigieg and Biden, according to records from OpenSecrets and the Federal Election Commission.
By far the biggest recipient of Netflix employee money has been the Senate Majority PAC, a political action committee that’s “solely dedicated to building a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate,” according to its website.
Democrats – $154,466 (93%), Republicans – $11,673 (7%)
Biden is the second-leading individual recipient from Nvidia workers, behind Sanders, but above Warren and Buttigieg. Employees have also sent money to DNC Services Corp., a Democratic PAC. Nvidia employee donations heavily favored Democrats in 2016 as well, with those candidates receiving 97% of money from employees, but as recently as 2014, the split between the parties was almost even.
Democrats – $401,937 (93%), Republicans – $28,137 (7%)
Like Netflix employees, those at Adobe always lean heavily left. In 2016, Democrats received almost 99% of employee money. Also like at Netflix, Adobe employees favored, in order, Sanders, Warren, Biden and Buttigieg. The leading overall recipient of Adobe employee money is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official campaign group of House Democrats.
Democrats – $1,496,234 (90%), Republicans – $163,804 (10%)
From employees of IBM, Biden has raised less than Sanders or Warren. He has also raised only twice as much as Trump, a narrower margin than at most other large tech companies. Like at Adobe, the DCCC has received more IBM employee money than any single candidate.
In 2016, IBM workers sent 88% of political donation money to Democrats, a number that jumped to 92% for the 2018 midterm elections.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, speaks as Marc Benioff, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Salesforce.com listens during a keynote at the 2019 DreamForce conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Nov. 19, 2019.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Democrats – $457,119 (89%), Republicans – $59,181 (11%)
Salesforce employees have strongly preferred Democrats since 2010, sending at least 88% of their money to candidates from that party in each cycle over the past decade. Biden is the third-biggest recipient among presidential candidates at Salesforce, behind Sanders and Warren. Among organizations, workers at the cloud software company have sent the most money to a group called Tech for Campaigns, which connects political campaigns with developers to try to “flip state legislatures all across the country blue.”
CEO Marc Benioff hasn’t contributed much this year, but in this cycle he’s been an equal opportunist. Last year, he contributed to Republican Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, and Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, while also writing checks to Democrats Jay Inslee, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker for their presidential primary campaigns. He also contributed to Democrat Mark Kelly, who is trying to unseat Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona.
Democrats – $5,437,048 (88%), Republicans – $766,920 (12%)
Google employees may not be the most partisan but they do provide, by far, the most capital among tech companies. Sanders, alone, received more than $1 million from Google workers, followed by Warren and Biden. A PAC called Future Forward USA has received $750,000.
Democrat Amy McGrath, who is running for the Senate in Kentucky against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has received more from Google employees than any other Senate candidate. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., who flipped the seat two years ago and is now trying to hang onto it, is also pulling in Google money.
Microsoft President Brad Smith.
Muller | Munich Security Conference
Democrats – $3,969,072 (85%), Republicans – $690,953 (15%)
Microsoft has seen one of the most dramatic swings in the tech industry. Four years ago, employees at the software giant sent only 53% of their donations to Democrats, increasing that number to 76% in 2018. Biden is second to Sanders among individual recipients. DNC Services and the Senate Majority PAC are tops among organizations.
In September, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, contributed $125,000 to the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund, a big backer off the DCCC and a group that helps fund House Speaker Pelosi’s PAC. McGrath has also received a good chunk of cash from Microsoft employees.
Democrats – $1,243,825 (84%), Republicans – $228,653 (16%)
Apple is trending less to the left than in 2016, when 91% of money from the iPhone maker’s employees went to Democrats. In this cycle, Biden has raised less than Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg. Even the Republican National Committee has attracted more Apple money than Biden.
One of Trump’s leading financial supporters in tech comes from Apple. Doug Vetter, a vice president and associate general counsel at the company, contributed $150,000 earlier this year to the Trump Victory PAC and over $100,000 to the Republican National Committee.
Democrats – $145,483 (84%) Republicans – $27,529 (16%)
PayPal employees sent 71% of donations to Democrats in 2016. The top recipients this cycle were Sanders, Biden and Warren, followed by presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Democrats – $798,586 (80%), Republicans – $204,400 (20%)
What a difference four years makes. For the 2016 campaign, only 36% of employee money from the networking company went toward Democrats, a number that jumped to 73% in 2018. The order among Democratic primary candidates goes Sanders, Biden and Warren. The next-biggest recipient of Cisco employee cash is Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who represents the company’s home district in Congress.
Democrats – $2,677,112 (77%), Republicans – $783,349 (13%)
Trump’s threats against the company and personal attacks on CEO Jeff Bezos (whom he sometimes calls Jeff Bozo) probably don’t help his cause among Amazon employees. When Trump first ran four years ago, Amazon employees directed slightly less — 75% — of their money to Democrats.
Sanders and Warren were the top two presidential recipients among Amazon workers, even though those two candidates were the biggest advocates for breaking up Big Tech.
The biggest checks from Amazon have come from Steven Kessel, a senior executive who left the company last year after two decades. Kessel contributed about $175,000 to the DNC between September and October 2019, just before his departure.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey are sworn-in for a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations’ use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Democrats – $1,634,153 (77%), Republicans – $480,133 (23%)
Biden is behind only Sanders when it comes to Facebook employee money, though among organizations, the Republican National Committee has received more funds than any other.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s billionaire chief operating chief, who previously worked for then-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, committed $150,000 to Women Vote!, a PAC focused on getting women to support pro-choice female Democratic candidates. Naomi Gleit, the company’s vice president of product and social impact, has contributed $50,000 to the Pelosi Victory Fund, which goes toward helping the DCCC and reelecting Pelosi.
Democrats – $790,769 (68%), Republicans – $372,667 (32%)
Intel is another example of a legacy technology company that’s moving more Democratic among its employee base. Typically, employees from the chipmaker have donated 35% to 45% to Republicans.
In this cycle, employees at Intel have directed their heftiest checks to Sanders, Warren and Biden, with the DCCC and Democratic National Senatorial Campaign Committee tops among organizations. Kelly in Arizona has been one of the leading recipients in Senate races.
Democrats – $326,616 (68%), Republicans – $154,058 (32%)
Broadcom’s employee data is hard to make sense of from one election to the next, in part because the company is so acquisitive that the staff makeup changes frequently. In 2016, Democrats received 84% of money from Broadcom employees, a number that sank to 48% in 2018.
As with many tech companies, the order of donation sizes goes Sanders, Warren and then Biden. However, in Senate races, McConnell is the leading recipient.
Safra Catz, chief executive officer of Oracle, arrives at Trump Tower in New York, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.
Albin Lohr-Jones | Pool via Bloomberg | Getty Images
Democrats – $785,882 (67%), Republicans – $380,240 (33%)
Oracle employees showed the biggest swing to the left among big tech companies.
Larry Ellison, Oracle’s co-founder and chairman, is a Trump supporter, and CEO Safra Catz was on his presidential transition team in 2016. Four years ago, just over half of employee money went to Republicans, and just under half in 2018.
But employees are now favoring Democrats in a big way. Sanders, Warren and Biden are the leading recipients of money from Oracle employees, and McGrath leads among Senate candidates.
Democrats – $123,543 (60%), Republicans – $82,571 (40%)
The Dallas-based semiconductor company is in a state that’s starting to look more purple, and employee donations are following the same trajectory. Democrats received only 24% of employee money in 2012. That rose to 38% in 2014, 46% in 2016 and 54% in 2018.
Sanders has been the favored candidate by Texas Instruments employees in this cycle, followed by Buttigieg and then Biden.
Democrats – $289,336 (50%), Republicans – $284,119 (50%)
Qualcomm has gone the other direction from most tech companies, from 85% of money going to Democrats four years ago, to just over half in this cycle. This is partly because co-founder Franklin Antonio has been writing much bigger checks to Republican groups ahead of the 2020 contest, focusing on PACs dedicated to getting Republicans elected and maintaining control of the Senate.
After Sanders and Biden, the next leading individual recipients are Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Dick Durbin of Illinois.
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