Election Superlatives: Most Likeable? Class Clown? Not Exactly. (UPDATED)

The 2020 US Presidential Election is in full swing. We break down each candidate’s stances on developer-centric issues. It’s almost spring, however, so it’s time to give the presidential class of 2020 its superlatives.

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Updated 3/5 Here With Latest Primary Results And Candidate Departures.

We at the Developers Alliance are decidedly nonpartisan, and as such we don’t get involved in elections. Our role is to represent a diverse developer community with a wide range of political viewpoints, and we take it very seriously. Part of that role is to help inform developers about the policy landscape ahead of us, and so we’ve done a deep-dive into all of the presidential platforms to assess their stances on developer issues.

The 2020 presidential candidates have dramatically different attitudes and policies regarding the digital sector – at least when talking about big tech. Candidates on both sides of the aisle have presented and debated technology policy intentions for their respective administrations. To say they all have different approaches (even within the same party!) is to put it lightly. Further, some have extensive experience working within the space, while others… not as much. What’s lacking so far are explicit commitments about small tech — though some recognize that big tech and small tech might have different needs. How can we drill down to the heart of these positions? Let’s give each candidate their own 2020 yearbook-worthy superlative.

It’s fair to say that, if you’re reading this article, how the candidates will handle technology issues is front of mind and maybe a deciding factor for you. You may be interested in how their campaigns stack up on cybersecurity, technology antitrust considerations, or proposals for handling misinformation online. While we won’t be endorsing or recommending any candidate, we wanted to provide the members of the developer community (like you!) with a broad overview for comparing candidates’ views on the issues that may affect your profession and livelihoods. 

The Democratic ticket is still a wide field of those seeking to challenge the presumptive Republican nominee (AKA President Trump). Primary voting in Iowa (February 3rd), New Hampshire (February 11th), and Nevada (February 22nd) have passed. South Carolina is February 29th. After that is Super Tuesday (March 3rd), which includes primaries for about 15 US states and territories, and it is fast approaching. No candidate has a clear path to victory yet and the race is still anyone’s game. 

There are a lot of factors to consider going into the next few weeks of primary voting. Who is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump? Who is the best candidate, period? For us, the question is who understands the most about the tech sector? Who will fight for developers? Who has taken an interest in this industry? Who wants to see this industry succeed and ensure American competitiveness in the technology fields? How will the candidates handle big-ticket issues like antitrust claims or regulatory pressures coming from outside the U.S.? 

More detail can be found in the assessments below; our best take given the information available at this stage in the campaigns. We recommend you seek a variety of sources and cross-compare. We hope this article will prove to be an informative and useful addition to your decision-making process. 

Looking for a TLDR? Skip straight to the conclusion where we recap the superlatives. 

Presented in alphabetical order, beginning with the incumbent party. 











In Conclusion



Most money pledged to further tech advances? Trump

Each year the president submits a budget request to Congress, which often indicates their policy priorities. This past year, the Trump administration proposed significant funding to go to AI and Quantum computing, showing that tech is a priority, and will continue to be, moving forward. This is part of the administration’s plan to double federal funding on non-defense-related AI and ultra-high-speed quantum computing by 2022. It goes hand in hand with Trump’s platform of modernizing the military and national infrastructure around the country.

While merely a proposed budget (and any deliverables would still have to pass Congress), Trump’s administration has recently proposed the items below, indicating their priorities:

  • More than $830 million, a 70 percent increase over the FY 2020 Budget, for the National Science Foundation for AI-related grants and interdisciplinary research institutes.  

  • $125 million for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science on AI research.  

  • $100 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants program to enhance the application of advanced technology, including AI, in agricultural systems.  

  • $50 million for new research at the National Institutes of Health on chronic diseases using AI and related approaches.  

  • Over $210 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Quantum Information Science (QIS) research, doubling the FY 2020 Budget for QIS.  

  • $237 million for DOE’s Office of Science to support QIS research. This will bolster quantum information efforts at the national laboratories and in academia and industry. 

  • Beyond R&D investments, the FY 2021 Budget includes investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and job training that will help create a diverse, highly skilled and entrepreneurial workforce to support the Industries of the Future. For example, at NSF, an additional $50 million will go toward education and workforce development for AI and QIS, with focused efforts in outreach to community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.

Trump has directed his administration “to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions” to rein in tech companies in the name of free speech and has repeatedly railed against tech companies over allegations of anti-conservative bias. Trump has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with platforms moderating certain accounts — including his. Trump claims that his follower and ‘liked’ post counts have fluctuated greatly without explanation.

On the topic of antitrust, Trump has said that with regards to big tech companies, “I think it’s a bad situation, but obviously there’s something going on in terms of monopoly.” He has also stated that his administration was looking “very seriously” at addressing the matter as he is “not looking to hurt these companies, I’m looking to help them.” Then, “As far as antitrust is concerned, we’ll have to take a look at that but I want them to do well.” 

Further, the Trump administration has cracked down on online platforms such as Amazon for selling counterfeit goods.


Unlike the Republican primary, the democratic ticket is still contested. In order to successfully clinch their party’s nomination, a candidate must obtain 1,991 delegates. Currently, the following candidates hold the most delegates: Sanders, 35; Buttigieg, 25; Biden, 15; Warren, 8; Klobuchar, 7. 

The next scheduled primary debate will be March 15, 2020, at 8-10 pm EST.

UPDATES (As Of 3/5/20)

The results from Super Tuesday are in! Since posting this article, presidential candidates Bloomberg, Klobuchar, Warren, and Buttigieg have all suspended their campaigns and have given their respective endorsements to Former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden won big on Super Tuesday, giving his campaign new life and shuffling the race. The current delegate count stands with Biden at 555, Sanders at 488, and Warren at 61 (though she has since dropped out as previously stated). There are 1,207 delegates already declared;1,991 are needed to secure the Democratic nomination. The states who have yet to vote make up the remaining 784 delegates. Delegates pledged to candidates that have effectively dropped out of the race can later be reallocated at the convention in order for one of the remaining candidates to cross the delegate threshold.


Most money donated from Silicon Valley? Biden (tied with Buttigieg)

Biden has gone on the record stating that he wants to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (the part of the law that insulates a platform from the content that user’s post). He has been more aggressive on this issue than some of his peers, stating that the law “immediately should be revoked.” Biden and his campaign have been personally impacted by the fallout of Section 230 when a pro-Donald Trump super-PAC spread misinformation regarding Biden’s work as vice president with regards to the ongoing Ukraine foreign aid situation.

Biden has additionally taken on a more moderate stance with regards to breaking up the big tech companies. While promising to enforce applicable antitrust law, he stated that formally breaking up large companies is “something we should take a really hard look at.”

Biden claims that during his tenure with the Obama administration cyber thefts from Chinese competitors were down, contrasting his successes with this versus the current administration.


Most hated by Big Tech? Bloomberg (this week, at least)

On Big Tech, Bloomberg has stated that “breaking things up just to be nasty is not an answer.” Further, he has chastised some of his opponents for being quick to rip major tech companies apart, claiming he “(doesn’t) think (Sanders and Warren) know what they’re talking about.” While acknowledging some of these companies have amassed far too much power (and have made some acquisitions the government should have prevented). 

While not an issue position, it should be noted that Bloomberg has been aggressively courting tech employees to help build out his campaign. He has also come under fire as his campaign was censored by Twitter for producing manipulated media.

Bloomberg has not laid out specific provisions for his vision on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, however, he has stated that “the rules that apply to your publication, in terms of what your responsibilities are for whatever you distribute to the public, should also apply to (tech platforms).” Bloomberg believes that “society shouldn’t give up the protections that we have from the press’s responsibility just because it helps them make more money,” indicating that if elected he would likely repeal at least part of the Section 230 provisions.

The core of Bloomberg’s campaign plan is “to support small businesses and entrepreneurship,” and this is echoed through the technology sector. Touting his past experience growing small business communities in struggling areas of New York City, Bloomberg promises his initiatives “will make it easier to start and grow a new business, eliminate bureaucracy, and connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed.”

Bloomberg’s technology platform focuses more on building out the tech sector through education, training, and investment in programs such as “community and technical colleges and through partnering with employers.” His campaign pledges to heavily invest in apprentice programs, streamline the government’s employment and training programs, and improve R&D “growth hubs in regions that need good jobs the most.” 


Most money donated from Silicon Valley? Buttigieg  (tied with Biden)

Buttigieg has a more measured approach to technology compared to others vying for the Democratic ticket.  With regards to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, he has stated that we must “demand more of our platforms,” and hold companies who give platforms to hate speech and extremists liable. Unlike the strong-arm tactics, some of his competitors have been accused of, Buttigieg states that his administration “will engage with social media and other online platforms to advance new tools and best practices, including appropriate terms of service, for limiting the spread of hateful ideology and of targeted harassment of individuals.” Further, he believes that ads on platforms should be held to the same standard of accountability and transparency as TV and radio ads. Buttigieg supports public-private partnerships and intends to “provide greater federal funding to develop tools that identify malicious actors and behavior online — including things like the use of falsified identities, problematic use of bots, and extremist behavior.” \

Buttigieg highlights that any initiatives in the Section 230 space “must take place in ways that respect free speech, privacy, and our nation’s constitutional principles.” 

With regard to antitrust issues, he believes that “breaking up tech companies should be an option” while acknowledging that the issue of monopolies extends beyond the tech sector and thus can have broader economic implications. While Buttigieg supports the ongoing antitrust probes of online platforms by the Justice Department, FTC, and state Attorneys General, he additionally promises to “double antitrust enforcement budgets so the Justice Department can prioritize the scrutiny of large online platforms such as Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon.” 

He’s also raised concerns about tech companies having too much power and has floated regulation, including fines and the blocking of new mergers, for Facebook and other big tech companies.


Klobuchar has without question taken on grand efforts to regulate Big Tech during her three terms in the Senate, as seen by her either introducing or cosponsoring more tech-related bills than any other candidate currently in the race, thus it is likely this will remain a top priority of hers if elected. 

Only candidate to have discussed (and supported developers on) patents? Klobuchar

She has vehemently opposed any legislation that would enable patent trolls. Among efforts Klobuchar supports, she is a sponsor of a bill requiring platforms to state the funding source of ads they feature, a bill mandating transparency in privacy policies on social media platforms,  a bill to put more strict rules on antitrust policies, a bill to bolster corporate merger standards, and two bills on stopping robocalls from reaching your mobile device.

Most likely to find a market-driven solution to antitrust issues? Klobuchar

Klobuchar is currently the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. She has stated that “We need to start talking about this as a pro-competition issue,” and has highlighted a harsher analysis of tech mergers moving forward. 

Most substantive industry knowledge? Klobuchar

Klobuchar has been hailed a “subject matter expert” on antitrust issues by those within the administration, in the technology sector, and on both sides of the aisle in Congress. As a Republican Senator even stated of her, “(Klobuchar) not only has a deep background on facts and figures, she’s thought deeply about (antitrust) issues…she has a unique ability to get down into the weeds but also be able to look at an issue from 30,000 feet.”

Supporting updated legislation regarding data privacy, she has cited “We need to put some digital rules into law when it comes to people’s privacy. For too long the big tech companies have been telling you ‘Don’t worry! We’ve got your back!’ while your identities are being stolen and your data is mined.” Further, she has stated that our laws need to be revised so that they are “as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them.”


Most likely to tank tech stocks? Sanders

Bernie, for better or worse, is one of the most consistent politicians of our day and his view towards the tech industry is similar to how he feels about any other major corporation — that they’re awful, and something needs to be done.

When asked about breaking up big tech, he gave a resounding ‘absolutely’ and has stuck to it since. Sanders has stated that Facebook has “incredible power over the economy, over the political life of this country in a very dangerous sense.” Further, he believes Amazon, Apple and Google are all monopolies and should be broken up under antitrust laws. He has stated that if elected he would prioritize appointing an Attorney General who would take measures to ensure this happens.

With regards to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Sanders has stated that “tech giants and online platforms should not be shielded from responsibility when they knowingly allow content on their platforms that promotes and facilitates violence. Section 230 was written well before the current era of online communities, expression, and technological development, so [I] will work with experts and advocates to ensure that these large, profitable corporations are held responsible when dangerous activity occurs on their watch while protecting the fundamental right of free speech in this country and making sure right-wing groups don’t abuse regulation to advance their agenda.”


Most Feared by Big Tech? Warren

Warren has held a tough stance on digital misinformation, going after Facebook and its leadership for their refusal to remove ads from politicians that were peddling everything from exaggerated truths to blatant four-Pinnochio lies. The Massachusetts senator has gone so far as to place her own campaign ads on Facebook touting that Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are backing the re-election of Trump (note: Facebook nor Zuckerberg have endorsed Trump or any other candidate; the ad was purely meant to test the Facebook digital misinformation policy from politicians. Facebook claims that statements by politicians are newsworthy, even if they are false).

Warren’s campaign also seeks to “(break) the political influence of market-dominant companies.” This position specifically includes shaming big companies – tech companies in particular – for hiring former federal employees. While this is often done to ensure private sector companies gain expertise in areas they don’t fully understand (ie: government), it is particularly important to tech companies as they are being increasingly regulated. Or as Warren’s team puts it, they “vacuum up anyone and everyone who leaves one of their government regulators in an obvious effort to leverage their new hire’s political connections and use the allure of potential future job offers to extract favorable treatment.”

Her campaign promises “to expand and aggressively enforce our antitrust laws by breaking up big tech companies.” She believes that “America’s biggest tech companies are controlling more and more of our digital lives and stifling competition in the tech industry,” and thus the only way to bring back competitive markets is to disassemble the tech behemoths who are currently on top.

In Conclusion

Each candidate profiled has a significantly different stance on the issues — where they’ve made a statement. Candidates on the progressive side (Sanders, Warren) are unashamedly anti-big tech, whereas more moderate candidates on the democratic ticket (Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar) recognize the impact and importance of a strong technology sector, and acknowledge that big tech and small tech are intertwined. Then there is Trump, disgruntled at the companies themselves, but cognizant of the need for American industries to compete in the face of our international competitors.

Overall, while the candidates are on the record regarding big tech, online speech, and platform regulation, they’ve said much less about small tech and the issues that would most impact independent developers outside of their broader push for small businesses. 

Looking for the quick download we mentioned above? Here are the superlatives again in quick order:

  • Most money pledged to further tech advances? Trump

  • Most money donated from Silicon Valley? Biden, Buttigieg

  • Most hated by Big Tech? Bloomberg (this week, at least)

  • Most likely to tank tech stocks? Sanders

  • Most substantive industry knowledge? Klobuchar

  • Only candidate to have discussed (and supported developers on) patents? Klobuchar

  • Most likely to find a market-driven solution to antitrust issues? Klobuchar

  • Most Feared by Big Tech? Warren

In conclusion, it’s really going to be up to YOU to decide what is best for your profession, your workforce, and your country as a whole. We encourage you to register to vote and show up to the polls on your respective election days because your voice matters.

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By Sarah Richard

Developers Alliance Policy Counsel & Head of US Policy

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