EXCLUSIVE: Research Finds Both Danger and Opportunity For Tech Companies
Companies like Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber are redefining how Americans live, but not without controversy. We wanted to learn more about voters’ opinions of these companies, to better understand the sort of political pressures facing Silicon Valley in the Trump era.
We partnered with the data analytics team at 0ptimus to do a big segment read of likely midterm voters. We interviewed 3,491 likely midterm voters in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and asked about sharing economy companies and Facebook.
- People are still making up their minds on whether companies like Uber and Airbnb benefit consumers or undermine jobs and public safety: Nearly half (46%) of all voters do not yet have an opinion of these companies. The good news for these companies is that of voters who do have an opinion, 68.5% support the companies while 31.5% oppose.
KEY POINT: The sharing economy made a good first impression on some voters, but negative news could still severely damage these companies. There is real opportunity for these companies to still shape their image in a positive way, but if they don’t do it proactively, continued negative press could fill the void.
- Companies like Uber and Airbnb face generational, not partisan challenges. Support for the companies is statistically tied among Democrats (39%) and Republicans (37.5%). However, 42% of voters under the age of 55 support the companies, while only 35% of voters over the age of 55 do.
KEY POINT: At a time when partisanship defines so much of public opinion, companies like Uber and Airbnb transcend typical partisan lines. (fig. 1)
- Facebook’s bad press in recent weeks, including the recent Cleveland murder, may be creating an emerging political problem for the company. We found that 37.5% of voters support more oversight for Facebook from the Federal Government, while 35.4% oppose it. Amazingly, the call for more Federal action is stronger with Republicans and independent voters (38.1%) than Democrats (32.7%).
KEY POINT: Facebook cannot count on Republicans to oppose increased Federal oversight of social media. They must be proactive in their media strategy to keep the bad press from shaping voters opinions of them negatively, thus leaving the door open for greater regulation. (fig. 2)
FIGURE 1 – Uber & Airbnb support by age group
FIGURE 2 – Opinions of Federal oversight by party
Methodology: Between 4/21-4/23, we surveyed 3,491 modeled likely midterm voters in Florida (N = 1,305), Wisconsin (N = 713), Pennsylvania (N = 690), and Ohio (N = 783) via IVR, landline only. Likely voters were defined as anyone having voted in the 2010 or 2014 midterm elections, plus the 15% additional most likely to turnout based on in-house turnout score modeling. Margin of error varies by question and segment, but is generally +/- 2.0% for topline results. Sample was weighted by state, age, gender, and party based on 2014 midterm turnout in the latest L2 voter file for each state. Results were then re-balanced based on these cohorts.