Democrats, Heed The Web3 Voter
You don’t need to be a professional pollster to understand that values-based, positive change for people will almost always beat a status quo defense of legacy institutions
Earlier in my career, I advised Democrats running for political offices from mayor to president (my first campaign was as a 12-year-old volunteer for Ted Kennedy’s 1980 White House run). Much about politics has changed since then, but politicians’ instincts and impulses remain the same—in a democracy, they play to win at the ballot box. The desire to get elected and re-elected is why politics is the input driving policy outcomes—not the other way around.
Given that politics drive policy, I’ve believed for some time that the single biggest accelerant to elected officials of both parties embracing web3 would be when those officials start including web3 questions in their campaign polling, because that polling would reveal both the size of the Web3 Voter bloc and the powerful values behind why these voters own digital assets. Morning Consult’s recent survey (see the poll memo below), commissioned by Haun Ventures, where I work, finds that in four states that will help determine control of the Senate and House (and by extension, the direction of our country and the state of our democracy), nearly 20% of midterm election voters own a digital asset.
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In particular, the survey makes the point: If you test web3, the politicians will come. Three findings in particular that speak to the appeal of web3 for this voting bloc are ones that every politician in the country should consider:
63% + 70% + 83%: Web3 Voters are indeed a bloc. The poll makes clear that the reason why most of the ~20% hold a digital asset is the same reason why a little over 10% of adults in the country hold union cards (and why union membership is reportedly on the rise): they do not believe America’s economy is giving people a fair shake. Sixty-three percent of these Web3 Voters say “US capitalism is failing everyday Americans.” They believe the current system is leaving too many people behind, with 70% agreeing, “The current system of capitalism only works for a select few, and many Americans are being left behind financially.” And they see a more decentralized, community-owned, open internet as a way to disrupt what is not working, as reflected by the 83% who believe, “Government and Big Tech have too much power over people’s lives” and that “Web3, digital assets, and crypto give everyday people power over their finances.”
These are value statements about how a significant bloc of voters feel about the status quo and why they see web3 as positive change. You don’t need to be a professional pollster to understand that values-based, positive change for people will almost always beat a status quo defense of legacy institutions. Putting people first. Change we can believe in. Forward not backwards. Etc.
40%: In three of the four states polled (Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania), more than 40% of voters who hold a digital asset said they do so because it lets them send money across national borders. Immigrants to the US, for example, can send money home to their families without having to use legacy financial services like banks, which often are not available to the underbanked, or which charge big fees. For all those naysayers who complain that web3 is just for financial speculation, this poll makes clear that these voters are relying on digital assets to help them overcome a real-world hurdle.
Moreover, this is a real-world hurdle in which the current legacy financial system is the bad guy. As someone running for office, whose side do you want to be on—the side of working-class families, or the side of big banks? You don’t need to be a professional political consultant to write a 30-second commercial featuring a candidate standing with the banks and against the folks the banks aren’t letting in.
And, 55%: The majority of midterm voters in these four states all made clear that they would reject candidates who stand in the way of a more decentralized, more open, and more accessible internet. Because support for web3 is driven by strongly held values rooted in economic anxiety, voters will react to candidates who pose a threat to those values. Democratic US Senate candidates like Tim Ryan in Ohio and John Fetterman in Pennsylvania are running competitively because they have campaigned authentically on offering solutions to people’s economic anxiety and in opposition to powerful institutions seen as standing in the way of everyday people getting a fair shake. They understand that for Democrats to be a majority party, the party needs to speak to the values represented by web3.
A clear warning sign for Democrats in this survey is flashing red: The “Web3 Voter” is a middle-class voter who is more diverse and younger than the electorate as a whole. If Democrats keep allowing themselves to be defined on web3 by the likes of SEC Chair Gary Gensler, and not by economically sympathetic, solutions-oriented candidates whose names actually are on the ballot like a Ryan, a Fetterman, or similar candidates to come in 2024, the party will risk both America’s national interest by sending web3 offshore, and their electoral interest.
The Web3 Voter
By Chris Lehane and Tomicah Tillemann
At Haun Ventures, our belief that we need new rules for new things is central to our advocacy for web3. For over a decade, many in the crypto community have focused on effecting change through engagement with the executive branch of government. As we head into a new chapter for the space—a moment in which a myriad of new use cases beyond finance are emerging—it is the other two branches of government, the legislative and the judiciary, that will feature prominently in whether or not the United States remains a global leader in technology and innovation. That’s why we’re closely tracking legislation making its way through Congress that has the potential to set new rules designed for leading edge technologies and provide clarity for builders. It’s also why, as a team, we’re turning our focus to the upcoming midterm elections. Specifically, we want to help political leaders on both sides of the aisle understand the growing constituency that cares deeply about the corrosive effects of Big Tech and Big Finance – challenges that web3 is uniquely positioned to address.
In November, a handful of key races in swing states will likely determine the makeup of the Congress that will be poised to establish new rules for the next generation of the internet. Today, we are sharing a recent poll commissioned by Haun Ventures and conducted by Morning Consult of likely 2022 midterm voters in four key swing states that surveyed voters’ views on web3 and how they might impact their vote.
In particular, we wanted to understand how the values of web3 resonate with voters, as the values voters attribute to an issue will drive electoral choices. The findings from the poll make clear that over 90% of voters express support for an internet that is community owned, community governed, and gives people greater control over their information. Significantly, and reflective of how the values that voters associate with web3 will drive electoral behavior, voters are less likely to support candidates perceived as standing in the way of a decentralized internet. In other words, as both parties consider how good web3 policy will translate into good politics, the values of web3 are what voters want to see elected officials supporting, not standing in the way of.
The poll also found that nearly one in five voters own digital assets. To put that number in perspective, there are now far more people in each of these swing states that hold digital assets than a union membership.
In the swing states we surveyed, these “Web3 Voters’” lean slightly Democratic, but this issue remains largely bipartisan. On the whole, Web3 Voters believe a decentralized, democratized internet represents economic opportunity, and they see web3 as a positive alternative to Big Tech platforms. However, at the same time, these Web3 Voters have limited faith in the government’s ability to build an appropriate regulatory approach for web3.
This poll makes it clear that in these swing states, Web3 Voters now represent a significant cohort of the middle class electorate, and are younger and more diverse than the population as a whole.
As web3 products and innovations become ever more widespread, and the perils of our current tech paradigm, including the erosion of privacy, data security, and trust, become more evident, we anticipate that even more voters will recognize what is at stake in shaping rules for web3.
Below, we dig into specifics on five major take-aways from the poll:
1. Nearly one in five voters own digital assets
18% of voters across these four swing states hold digital assets.
Given the adoption curve of web3, this is likely as small as the Web3 Voter bloc will ever be.
2. Voters across the political spectrum are more likely to oppose candidates who stand in the way of a decentralized internet
55% of voters surveyed would be less likely to vote for candidates who oppose policies that enable web3 (defined as a decentralized, open, internet where people have more control over their data).
What’s particularly compelling about these findings is that voter sentiment regarding web3 tends to be bipartisan, with independents expressing the strongest views in favor of web3.
91% of voters hold a favorable view of the principles of web3 as described above.
3. Voters view web3 as both a response to an unfair economic system and a positive alternative to Big Tech monopolies
60% of voters in these swing states view the current economic system as unfair and failing everyday Americans.
75% of voters agree that Big Tech has too much power over people’s lives, and favor greater individual autonomy and digital decentralization.
72% of voters who own digital assets say they do so because they want an economic system that is more democratized, fair, and works for more people.
In three of the four states surveyed, NV, OH, and PA, over 40% of respondents who hold digital assets said that they use them to facilitate international remittance (managing of global cross border payment transactions).
4. Neither party garners a majority of support from Web3 Voters for its approach to the technology, however, voters lean slightly towards supporting Democratic Senate candidates.
While swing-state Web3 Voters are inclined to support Democratic candidates outside of the poll’s margin of error, these remain competitive races.
5. The Web3 Voter is middle class and represents a younger, more diverse voting demographic
80% of the Web3 Voters have incomes under $100k.
31% of Web3 Voters are people of color compared to 15% of all voters.
65% are between the ages of 18-44 compared to 30% of all voters.
The Morning Consult poll surveyed 800 likely November 2022 voters across New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania from September 15th to 20th and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all swing states combined, and plus or minus 6.9 percentage points between states. These states were selected as swing states when it comes to both competitive senate races and states with a number of House districts considered toss ups.
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