Trump vs. Clinton: Who has the tech chops? Clinton Edition

A look at the how the US Presidential candidates stack up on tech issues.

Under the headline The return of the Luddite president, Politico warned that both candidates have “scant first-hand understanding of modern technology”.

But does Democratic Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton have what it takes to draw the votes of the technology industry?

Her email SNAFU and subsequent handling of the fallout have not helped her image much, but probably doesn’t harm her standing with those who haven’t already written her off as a government crony.

Although she’s probably not as tech savvy as her Democrat predecessor, Clinton has shown understanding of the issues affecting the technology industry, is quickly gathering big name support, and has tech friendly policies.


In an area that traditionally votes Democrat, Hilary is the default candidate of choice within Silicon Valley. Tesla’s Elon Musk, investor Chris Sacca, Box’s Aaron Levie, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg are reportedly all donors to Clinton, while Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt is helping through his Groundwork data startup.

Mark Cuban has now come out in favour of Clinton and started taking pot-shots at Trump, at one point asking; “Is there any bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?”

Michael Bloomberg – a man whom many people thought could run for the White House himself –  instead aligned himself with Clinton, and called Trump’s business record into question when speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has called the Clinton-Kaine ticket “strong advocates” for technology policy, having previously criticised Obama for his “anti-business” stance.

HPE CEO Meg Whitman – historically a staunch republican – recently denounced Trump and announced her support for Clinton. “It is clear to me that Secretary Clinton’s temperament, global experience and commitment to America’s bedrock national values make her the far better choice in 2016 for President of the United States,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Former HP CEO (and rival to Trump for the Republican nomination) Carly Fiorina, while not particularly fond of Trump, has been scathing towards Clinton. Fiorina has repeatedly labelled Clinton a liar, and even after her own campaign ended continued to sling mud to see whether Clinton is “qualified and fit to sit in the Oval Office”.

While no fan of Trump, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called Clinton a “war hawk” who “lacks judgement”.


Where the technology industry has in recent elections been contributing increasingly large amounts to candidate campaigns, there’s been relatively little action this time round. Obama had plenty of support from the technology industry, and even Romney could count the likes of Marc Andreessen as his backers.

No matter how you slice the data, Clinton is ruling the fundraising. She has raised over $330 million to Trump’s $41 million. According to CrowdPac’s data, around 10% of Clinton’s funding has come from the technology industry. For Trump, a mere $117,00 has come from tech, equating to around 0.29% of his total donations. Interestingly, before he dropped out, Bernie Sanders had actually raised more from the tech scene than Clinton and Trump put together.

According to a report from last August, Clinton has more support from CEOs than any other candidate. It is also interesting to note that the majority of donations to Trump are smaller individual donations, highlighting that while one candidate has big business and the rich on their side, the other is a draw for the less able to give.


In October of last year, PKWare and Wakefield Research asked 1,000 US voters how they feel about the issues of cyber security and the presidential race. While it was conducted before Clinton and Trump were confirmed as their parties’ nominees, there was a stark difference in levels of trust. While the parties were even in perception of general cyber policies, over 42% said they felt Clinton was the candidate best suited to handle issues of cyber-security, compared to just 24% for Trump.


2008 was widely regarded at the first social media election. Today it’s hard to imagine running a political campaign without an online presence. Kissing babies has been replaced by taking selfies as the de facto “mingling with the common people” schtick. Online AMAs are more common, national conventions are live streamed on various mediums. Many are even calling this the first “Snapchat election.”

According to Mediaquant, Clinton has had the equivalent of almost $750 million of free media attention across the campaign, less than half of Trump’s. According to the media analysts, the sentiment of mentions for both candidates is largely positive.

Trump has 10.1 million followers on FB, and 10.6 million on Twitter. Clinton has eight million on Twitter and just five million on FB. Trump’s often polarising comments, his celebrity status, plus the fact he joined back in 2009 give him the edge when it comes to online presence. Both, however, pale in comparison to the incumbent. Barack Obama’s accounts (his personal, not US President, pages) boast 49.5 million on FB and 76.5 million on Twitter.

You can get real-time updates on the growth of each candidates’ pages over at Quintly. According their data, both are growing at similar rates (with Clinton slightly ahead), but Trump gets more in the way of interactions with his posts on both Twitter and Facebook. Given her larger war chest, it’s also not surprising Clinton is using more sponsored content to reach people on social media.


Clinton has set out a fairly broad set of technology policies. These include broadband access to all American homes, the rolling out of 5G, a commitment to net neutrality, better cyber security, a reformed patent and copyright system, and a more digital government. She’s also promised changes around education and entrepreneurship; greater investment in STEM education and computer science, a commitment to greater diversity in the industry, support for entrepreneurs and incubators across the country, and the ability to suspend student loans while starting new businesses.

Political strategy firm Tusk Ventures and tech policy group Engine have drawn up some helpful scorecards to rate the candidates on their tech chops. The candidates were rated on their support, understanding, and familiarity with a number of tech issues including security, IP, education and infrastructure. The report gave Clinton a B+ “for her strong positions on net neutrality, broadband access and STEM education”.

There’s little revolutionary in there, but she has a clear vision and concrete policies that will please, if not wow, those working in tech.


While far more in favour of immigration than her Republican rival, there’s very little to suggest that Clinton will be giving the technology industry free reign to bring in workers from overseas.

When speaking with Vox she warned the tech industry she wouldn’t pander to their desire for more high-skilled visas for foreign workers, saying; “I think keeping the pressure on them helps us resolve the bigger problem.”

However, there’s been no talk of walls, banning people of certain religions, or pausing the issuance of Green cards, especially to foreign students.


So who’s your pick? Is Trump the man to lead the US tech industry into its next golden age?



P.S. And the Libertarian…

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, by virtue of not being John McAfee, isn’t the most interesting candidate the third party could have chosen. However, given the recent rise in polling for the Libertarians, we’ll give a quick rundown of where Johnson stands.

Tax reform (including removing corporate income tax), updating the visa system, greater internet freedom and removing any government backdoors, are probably the most technology-relevant policies he has.

Unsurprisingly given his anti-regulation stance, his main technology quote has been; “There is nothing I want to fix when it comes to the Internet.” Johnson has also suggested he would pardon both Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning for their roles in whistleblowing.


Also read:

Watson2016: Could an AI run for President?

More US 2016 tech lunacy: John McAfee for president?

What would Donald Trump as US president mean for tech?