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Tech bets on Obama with campaign donations

Money and a new survey point favorably in Obama's direction

The tech industry's 2012 campaign donations show a clear preference for President Barack Obama, and industry executives believe he will win reelection, according to a new survey.

Obama has raised $5.07 million from the tech sector, with campaign donations coming from political action committees at tech firms, employees and even immediate families. Donors associated with Microsoft contributed $544,445; those related to Google, $526,000; and IBM-related contributions totalled $218,800, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has received just over $2 million from the tech industry, with EMC Corp.-related donors contributing the largest chunk: $257,250.

In a survey of 222 C-level executives at tech firms, law firm DLA Piper found that 76% believe Obama will win the Nov. 6 election, with the balance, 24%, predicting a win for Romney.

This survey was conducted between Sept. 13 through Oct. 4, the day after the debate between Obama and Romney that Romney is widely seen to have won.

Of those responding, 33% were CEOs or presidents, 16% were senior vice presidents or vice presidents, and 31% were managing partners. The balance included general counsels and CFOs.

The companies ranged in size from under $10 million (33%) to over $2 billion (11%), with the balance falling in between. Along with tech companies, the survey pinged venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and consultants.

Peter Astiz, global co-head of the Technology Sector at DLA Piper, said that while the 76% prediction is about who will win, his personal interpretation of the result is that it also reflects the preference of the executives. "If you say you expect him (to win), that's probably what you want," he said.

That survey finding aside, 64% of the respondents believe Romney would be better for the technology economy.

The latter finding doesn't contradict Astiz's belief that the survey also reflects the voting preference of the executives in an election that is otherwise close. "There are a lot of other issues to elect a president beyond whether they're going to be good for the technology sector," he said.

A majority of respondents, 60%, believe the expiration of the Bush-era tax cut will hurt tech investments, while 33% see no impact on the industry. A few, 7%, think the expiration of the cuts will help.

Astiz said some of the feeling about Romney having a positive impact on tech may be due to the traditional sense that Republicans are less oriented toward regulations.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is [email protected].

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

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