IT professionals unhappy about the state of the union would be wise to vote in the 2008 presidential election, according to research released by CompTIA, because this 12 million-strong group of educated workers could influence the outcome.
By sheer number alone, IT professionals in the US could sway this year's presidential election, according to a recent survey of 600 IT workers conducted by the Computer Technology Industry Association and Rasmussen Reports. The IT industry is comprised of 12 million professionals, CompTIA says, outnumbering workers in the mining, farming and construction industries combined.
"The findings point to a potent political force, which the campaigns have to reckon with," said Roger Cochetti, group director of US Public Policy for CompTIA, in a CompTIA report.
The survey, which took place before the early March primaries, revealed that the group of IT professionals eligible to vote is larger than previously estimated and more politically active than believed to be in the past.
"IT workers matter because they are bright, well paid and most importantly can swing the vote," Cochetti stated. "It's bigger than almost all earlier estimates, and far more politically active than most pundits had thought."
This group of voters tends to be young, educated, independent, politically motivated -- and lean conservative. For instance, more than one-third of those polled identified with the Republican political party, while 39 per cent said they considered themselves conservative. About one-quarter said they were affiliated with the Democrat party and 24 per cent called themselves liberal. About 40 per cent checked "other" when questioned on political parties and 36 per cent referred to themselves as moderate. The results also show that close to one-third of those surveyed have contributed to a presidential campaign online.
As for candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama would win the majority of votes among IT workers polled, with each garnering 29 per cent. Senator Hillary Clinton was cited by 13 per cent, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee won over 11 per cent, while Congressman Ron Paul earned a nod from 9 per cent of those polled.
Among the criteria IT pros say is important for a candidate, specific policies resonated the most with 27 per cent of those polled. One-quarter said a candidate's vision could lead them to support them, and 16 per cent relied on previous experience to determine who to support. Just 1 per cent indicated that candidates must be concerned about the tech sector to win their vote.
In terms of national priorities, close to 40 per cent of IT workers polled said the economy is the most important issue facing the next US president, while 18 per cent find the war in Iraq a major concern. Fifteen per cent noted immigration as a pressing issue for the nation's next leader, and 14 per cent said national security topped the list. Issues such as government ethics and corruption (6 per cent), healthcare (4 per cent) and social security (1 per cent) are also on IT pros' minds for the next election.
CompTIA says education and income gives IT pros an edge when it comes to candidates looking to win their votes. The survey shows that more than 70 per cent of high-tech voters earn between US$60,000 and more than US$100,000 annually, and about three-quarters are aged between 18 and 49, with about 24 per cent aged between 50 and 64. The IT voters surveyed are mostly male (77 per cent) and white (74 per cent). Close to 100 per cent graduated high school, with 25 per cent attending college, 46 per cent graduating college and 26 per cent completing graduate degrees.
"We've seen all the presidential hopefuls stop in Silicon Valley, stumping for votes. It's clearly a large and well-off group of independent-minded voters, whose loyalty is up for grabs," Cochetti added.