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Cash, cups, clicks: Techies back Obama

Google CEO Eric Schmidt may be Democratic nominee's top tech supporter

October 20, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Today was the last day to register to vote in next month's election in Silicon Valley's Santa Clara County, where Barack Obama has a clear edge and, now, a really big backer: Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt.

CEOs usually avoid such public declarations to avoid getting clubbed in Washington if their candidate loses, but tech workers will likely vote in droves for Democrats. However, Google confirmed today that Schmidt is playing an active role in Obama's campaign, who visited Google late last year.

Schmidt's calculus must take note that in Santa Clara County, home to Google headquarters in Mountain View, 46% of the 759,645 registered voters are Democrats, 24% Republican and 25% have not declared a party, a county spokeswoman said.

On the drive to the Google HQ, it's probably safe to say that some of those workers stop at a 7-Eleven, where customers can pick either an Obama or John McCain coffee cup. And in California, the store's coffee drinkers are picking Obama coffee cups 64% of the time.

But the preference is not just in California. In every state that has a large tech employment base, Obama is winning in coffee cup selections by large margins, with the exception of New Jersey. Obama has a slim cup-edge over McCain.

Here's how tech employment, using figures from the AeA's (formerly American Electronics Association) annual Cyberstate report, and 7-Eleven coffee cup count works out.

  • 1. California: total tech employment, 941,000. 7-Eleven coffee cup sales ratios: 64% Obama, 36% McCain.
  • 2. Texas: 459,500 tech workers; coffee cups: 61% Obama, 39% McCain.
  • 3. New York: 301,500 tech workers; coffee cups: 53% Obama, 47% McCain.
  • 4. Florida: 282,100 tech workers; coffee cups: 57% Obama, 43% McCain.
  • 5. Virginia: 270,800 tech workers; coffee cups: 61% Obama, 39% McCain.
  • 6. Massachusetts: 242,500 tech workers; coffee cups: 62% Obama, 38% McCain.
  • 7. Pennsylvania: 210,200 tech workers; coffee cups: 61% Obama, 39% McCain.
  • 8. Illinois: 209,300 tech workers; coffee cups: 61% Obama, 39% McCain.
  • 9. New Jersey: 197,200 tech workers; coffee cups: 52% Obama, 48% McCain.
  • 10. Michigan: 176,100 tech workers; coffee cups: 62% Obama, 38% McCain.

In all the states that 7-Eleven has stores in, Obama coffee cups are picked 60% of the time. 7-Eleven said that the data, which involved about 6 million total cup sales in previous elections, has been close to actual election results. In 2004, the ratio of cups sold was 51% for George Bush and 49% for John Kerry.

In fundraising, Obama has received 62% of the $28.7 million that the Center for Responsive Politics attributes to tech-industry political-action committees and individuals.

Schmidt probably also looked at some Web site traffic data regarding Obama. He has, like we all do, access to what might be the world's largest database.



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