Monday, March 8, 2021

Darren R. Halpin and Anthony J. Nownes's "The New Entrepreneurial Advocacy"

Darren R. Halpin is Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University in Canberra. He researches the organization of interests and interest representation in the policy process in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and comparatively. He is co-editor of the international journal Interest Groups and Advocacy and founding director of the Policy Advocacy Lab.

Anthony J. Nownes is Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee. His research interests include lobbying, non-profit advocacy, and celebrity politics. His latest book is Organizing for Transgender Rights.

Nownes applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, The New Entrepreneurial Advocacy: Silicon Valley Elites in American Politics, and reported the following:
On the first part of page 99, my co-author and I summarize some of our findings on Silicon Valley company founders’ and CEOs’ campaign contributing behavior. We report that of the 384 founders we studied, 33% made at least one disclosable federal campaign contribution during the 2015-2016 election cycle. We do not know how this percentage compares to other populations of corporate elites because there are not many studies of corporate elites’ political behavior. We do know that only about 10 percent of Americans make campaign contributions in any given election cycle. The second half of page 99 notes that as a group, business leaders tend to lean Republican in their campaign giving. But this population…not so much. Silicon Valley business leaders give overwhelmingly to Democratic candidates and organizations.

The page 99 tests works reasonably well for our book. We say this because page 99 highlights two general findings that tend to recur in our empirical analyses: (1) Silicon Valley corporate elites are politically active but not hyperactive as some media reports might have us believe; (2) Silicon Valley elites are overwhelmingly Democratic in their partisan identification and liberal in their ideology.

Page 99 highlights a couple of general points, but it does not hint at the other forms of political participation we describe in the rest of the book. One of our goals was to describe the wide range of ways Silicon Valley corporate elites try to affect public policy. In addition to contributing money to candidates, these corporate elites donate money to political parties, advocacy groups (e.g., environmental groups, LGBT rights groups, civil rights groups), and Super PACs. Also, many speak out on political issues publicly via new (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and old media (newspapers, magazines, radio, and television programs). And some even go as far as starting their own advocacy groups. Finally, many Silicon Valley corporate elites engage in philanthropy that has political overtones. We found 44 grant-making foundations associated with the Silicon Valley elites we studied, and together these foundations made approximately $1.775 billion in contributions in 2015 (the year we studied).

Page 99 also obscures one crucial thing about Silicon Valley elite political activity: Though it is decidedly Democratic and liberal, it is hardly anti-business or anti-regulation. Yes, Silicon Valley elites disproportionately support Democrats over Republicans. Yes, Silicon Valley elites disproportionately support Democratic-leaning organizations over Republican-leaning organizations when they support advocacy groups. And yes, Silicon Valley corporate elites disproportionately speak out in favor of liberal causes over conservative causes when they “go public” with their advocacy. But Silicon Valley corporate elites seldom favor firebrand economic liberals such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, choosing instead to support more fiscally conservative and business-friendly Democrats. Similarly, when they speak out on issues or contribute to advocacy groups, they focus upon issues such as LGBT rights, the environment, immigration, education, and transportation, rather than more traditional New Deal Democratic issues such as social welfare benefits, the minimum wage, collective bargaining and unionism, and other “bread and butter” economic issues. Silicon Valley elites are, in short, “new liberals.”
Learn more about The New Entrepreneurial Advocacy at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue