Amy Schatz of the WSJ is the first out of the gate with a Obama v. McCain-for-the-hearts-and-wallets-of-Silicon-Valley story. (Previous pieces hedged with other candidates).
Few presidential candidates have had as much experience dealing with technology and telecommunications issues as Sen. McCain, who for years chaired a Senate committee that deals with them. But he rarely brings tech issues up on the campaign trail and hasn't released many significant policy proposals about them yet.
By contrast, his likely rival, Sen. Obama of Illinois, presented a detailed technology agenda in November that addressed many of the industries' hot-button issues -- including support for building faster broadband networks and keeping Internet traffic unfettered. He has subsequently raised significantly more Silicon Valley cash than Sen. McCain.
A running total of campaign donations by Silicon Valley zip codes maintained by TechNet, an association made up of 150 high-tech chief executive officers, finds that by March 31, Sen. Obama had raised $5 million, compared with almost $800,000 for Mr. McCain.
The piece notes that the discrepancy in funding between the two candidates can be partially attributed to the fact that tech issues aside, there just happens to be a lot more people ideologically attuned to Obama in the Bay Area. Very true, but a well-done June Atlantic Monthly piece also shows how Obama quietly used the Valley as a fundraising launching pad for his campaign early in the process...
...But more than any policy, the idea of Obama and the world he speaks for seemed to excite something deep within the limbic system of the Valley brain that manifested itself through the early and continuing financial support that was crucial to launching Obama’s campaign. Getting behind Obama, especially for those who did so early, appealed to their self-image as discerning seers.
Discerning seering aside, the WSJ does pick up on one policy note that will likely be exploited by McCain with industry-types in the coming months (and with good reason): Free trade. As the primary election trudged on, Obama's pragmatist instincts were smothered by an apparent need to score populist political points on the issue. McCain has had no need for nuance on the need for free trade in a global economy.
BTW, this week marks the year anniversary of McCain's keynote interview at the All Things D conference (my picture below). I remember a general feeling among the many tech execs in the audience of "it's kind of embarrassing that this guy has zero chance to get the nomination and he's speaking here, but, hey, he's a war hero, a senator, and (John) Chambers supports him, so I guess I will listen."
Even more tellingly, was the post-speech handshake tour among the dining attendees. Cisco's Chambers diligently introduced the Senator to different tables of folks. It was all very polite and people were genuinely interested in meeting and talking to McCain, but there was no rush of people to do so. Folks stood back and if McCain made it to their table, than great, if not, than, hey, look over there... what is Chad Hurley wearing?
It would be different scene altogether if McCain was speaking this year (not to mention Obama). Just shows how vaunted visionaries can miss half of the future even when it has walked in the room and extended its hand.