Silicon Valley is feeling the bern. Data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) shows that Google employees have donated over $200,000 to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, making Google the number one employer for Bernie Sanders donors.
It may seem strange that Google employees, among the best-paid in their industry, are supporting the candidate who has railed against millionaires and billionaires. Yet Google isn’t alone. The Guardian reported that four out of the top five employers of Sanders donors are tech industry giants: Microsoft comes in at number three, followed by Apple and Amazon.
Moreover, Hillary Clinton has missed out on tech money, at least when it comes to voter donations to her campaign. One Sanders donor analyzed the FEC filings and found that the biggest industries for Sanders’ donors are tech and education, whereas Clinton receives her greatest support from the legal industry and retirees. Clinton, however, has made millions from speaking fees charged to tech companies. A Washington Post investigation showed that $3.2 million of her $11.7 million in fees for 51 speeches from January 2014 to May 2015 came from tech companies.
Age may explain some of Sanders’ popularity among tech workers. The tech industry, which attracts fresh college grads, is much younger than other industries. A recent survey found that the median age of employees at web startups is between 28 and 31. Sanders has done exceedingly well with voters under 30.
Yet why are the moneyed elite of Silicon Valley the throwing their support behind the only socialist candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign? Techie Bernie fans may be voting their dollars against their own self-interest. After all, Silicon Valley bills itself as a free-market, entrepreneurial place where meritocracy reigns. In cities like San Francisco, young, upwardly-mobile tech employees have come to stand for income inequality, while Sanders is standing up for the have-nots of the US. An entry-level employee at Google makes over $100,000, according to a study by PayScale.