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November 18, 2016

Tech in The Age of Trump

Vrge Analytics / SurveyMonkey Poll Shows Americans Still Love Tech, But Also Fear Impact on Jobs

Americans have a love/fear relationship with technology, appreciating how it has bridged the gap between the rich and poor but many are concerned it will be a job-destroyer in the future, according to a new post-election Vrge Strategies survey using SurveyMonkey.

Technology’s impact on the economy looms large as American voters are at partisan odds whether the shift to a global economy is a good or bad thing for the United States. Driven by the white males without a college degree that spurred Donald Trump’s election upset, Republicans are pessimistic about the benefits of globalization. While 76 percent of Democrats call the trend towards a global economy a good thing, only 36 percent of Republicans think so.

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“The technology industry faces political challenges in a Trump Administration,” said Scott Gerber, partner and co-founder of Vrge Strategies. “But what this survey shows is that technology is also seen as the solution to many of America’s problems. It’s vital that the industry look at how it can address the economic concerns that surfaced during the election, while fulfilling a core mission to help to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.”

The Vrge Analytics “Tech in the Age of Trump” survey saw challenges ahead for President-elect Trump. For example, a majority of American voters (54 percent) expressed a lack of confidence in his ability when it “comes to making the right decisions about the country’s economic future.” And a nearly identical majority said they lack confidence in his ability to maintain U.S. tech leadership.

And Trump may find many Americans uncertain about one of his signature policy initiatives: immigration. While Trump has vowed to curb illegal immigration and deport millions, Americans didn’t cite that issue as a priority. In fact, it registered no higher than fifth among groups, behind issues such as preventing American companies from moving jobs overseas, promoting technology innovation, lowering corporate tax rates, renegotiating trade deals and removing regulations. The group most likely to prioritize immigration was whites with less than a college education, but only 1 in 6 voters called it a priority.

After eight years of a special relationship with President Obama, the technology industry is at an awkward moment with the Trump presidency. Silicon Valley leaders who nearly universally supported Hillary Clinton must now find a way to engage with the Republican president-elect on key issues.

There is some good news, however, that Silicon Valley can point to. Americans look at technology as helping them live their lives: 63 percent said it makes life better for them and their family, according to the survey of 1,833 respondents conducted November 16-17th.

But ominously, American voters also fear what is coming next: the majority (51 percent) report they expect in the next 10 years technology will destroy more jobs than it creates. For example, advances in automation and artificial intelligence that are transforming manufacturing and threaten to displace truck and taxi drivers with self-driving vehicles.

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Tech’s challenge will be to help find solutions that create jobs, or run the risk of being blamed for the loss of millions of jobs a technology-driven automation changes the economy.

Even so, Americans are often positive on the impact of technology companies:

  • 76 percent say it’s had a positive impact on American society while a whopping 87 percent said tech has been positive for the U.S. economy.
  • 62 percent say it has “leveled the playing field between rich and poor,” and that sentiment is shared evenly by demographic groups, for example those without a college education, who have expressed concerns about globalization’s impact on the economy.
  • Americans (64 percent) expect the next business leader to come from the United States and that technology will set the agenda for the next decade – even if they don’t know what exactly what that technology will be. The number-one answer for what will drive the agenda was “some new device, service or product we don’t know today.”
  • You can find the full top-line polling memo here.

    Key Questions and Results from the Survey:

    Q1. Do you think the trend toward a global economy is a good thing or a bad thing for our country?

    Good thing
    54%

    Bad thing
    41%

    No Answer
    5%

    Q2. Which of the following do you think is the most important thing government can do to create more jobs for people like you? (Pick 2)

    Prevent American companies from moving jobs overseas
    58%

    Tax credits to encourage technological innovation
    27%

    Lower corporate taxes
    21%

    Renegotiate trade deals to limit international trade
    18%

    Remove regulations
    16%

    Slow immigration
    13%

    No Answer
    3%

    Q3. When you look ahead 10 years, will technology…

    Make life better for you and your family
    63%

    Make life worse for you and your family
    15%

    Make no difference
    20%

    No Answer
    2%

    Q4. When you look ahead 10 years, will technology…
    Create more jobs than it displaces
    34%

    Take away more jobs than it creates
    51%

    Make no difference
    13%

    No Answer
    2%

    Q5. How much confidence do you have in Donald Trump when it comes to making the right decisions about the country’s economic future?

    Great deal
    24%

    Good amount
    21%

    Just some
    19%

    None
    35%

    No Answer
    1%

    METHODS — This Vrge survey was conducted online using SurveyMonkey on November 16-17, 2016 among a national sample of 1,833 adults who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The bootstrap confidence interval for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for registered voters.

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