Survey: Obama, McCain tied among tech workers

If the presidential election were today, and only IT folks voted, the two candidates would each get 29 percent, one survey says. Hillary Clinton would get 13 percent.

Anne Broache Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Anne Broache
covers Capitol Hill goings-on and technology policy from Washington, D.C.
Anne Broache
3 min read

If the outcome of this year's presidential race depended solely on the whims of computer industry workers, it appears that there'd be a draw.

Or at least that's what a survey of 600 employees in that space recently found. The questionnaire was conducted just before the early March primaries by the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, a trade association that represents mostly smaller technology companies, and Rasmussen Reports, a public-opinion research organization.

In response to a question about who'd get their votes if the election were "today," both Democrat Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain received 29 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton trailed behind them with 13 percent, according to results released Tuesday. (Here's CompTIA's PowerPoint presentation of the findings.)

Republican Mike Huckabee racked up 11 percent of the vote, and Internet sweetheart Ron Paul nabbed 9 percent. Another 9 percent of the survey respondents said they were undecided.

More broadly, 35 percent of the survey respondents identified themselves as Republican, 26 percent as Democrat, and 40 percent as "other." Broken down further, 39 percent identified themselves as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, 24 percent as liberal, and 2 percent as "not sure."

Update at 1:45 p.m. PST: The survey was conducted by phone and through a scientifically random distribution, CompTIA spokesman Mike Wendy said. Call recipients were asked first whether they were American, over the age of 18, and an information technology worker, and if they answered affirmatively to all three, the call proceeded. That process was repeated until 600 IT workers were reached.

The findings demonstrate that the high-tech workforce, which CompTIA says numbers about 12 million, is "clearly a large and well-off group of independent-minded voters, whose loyalty is up for grabs," said Roger Cochetti, the group's public-policy director.

Still, it would seem that the economic sector isn't necessarily representative of the American public. Obama, after all, did lose Silicon Valley to Clinton on Super Tuesday, though he has shaped up to be more of an Internet darling than his rival.

Rasmussen's own latest "presidential tracking poll" of 1,600 likely voters, regardless of employment sector, indicates a much tighter race on the Democratic side than the tech sector survey suggested. A Monday night survey found that Obama was favored by 45 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, while Clinton attracted 44 percent.

A roundup of other recent polls by Gallup, CNN, USA Today, and others, found that Obama averaged a 2 percent advantage, though Clinton was favored in some of the individual surveys.

An average of those polls also shows that less than a percentage point separates McCain from Obama or Clinton, based on separate polls pitting him against each of the Democrats.

For the record, men composed the largest chunk of survey respondents, at 77 percent, which may account to some degree for the lackluster Clinton vote. About three-fourths of the survey respondents were white, and nearly half were college graduates. About a third of them said they earn more than $100,000 annually, but otherwise, income levels were all over the map. About a fourth of the respondents said they had contributed to a presidential campaign.

The survey--the second of what CompTIA has billed as a series of surveys aimed at amplifying technology interests in this year's election cycle--didn't delve much into specific policy topics. But it did note that respondents ranked the economy, the war in Iraq, and immigration, respectively, as the top three most important issues for the next president.

A more detailed report dissecting specific policy issues that inform technology workers' votes is expected to be released later this month.