Alphabet’s Political Contributions

In anticipation of the midterm elections, this is the first in a series of posts examining the political preferences of major American companies. Alphabetically, we’ll begin by examining Alphabet Inc.

At GovPredict, we host the broadest database of political contributions in the world, spanning contributions to federal, state, and local committees, as well as to 527 organizations. For the time being, our analysis will look at contributions to exclusively federal candidates and causes.

The question is simple: what are the political preferences of Alphabet employees, as revealed by their political giving histories, and how have these preferences evolved over time?

Alphabet is an interesting case because it is a conglomerate that has made a series of acquisitions. For the sake of this analysis, we considered the best known subsidiaries, including Google, YouTube, Nest, Google Ventures, Calico, Adsense, Google Ventures, and Verily, in addition, of course, to the holding company itself. All data came from bulk downloads supplied by the Federal Election Commission on FEC.gov.

Our analysts and machines first had to identify the variants of employer names that Alphabet employees used when filing election contributions. The final list had 233 variants, including “Google Venturess,”  “Nest Labs,” “Nest at Google,” “Verily (Google Life Sciences),” and the like. It was then necessary to categorize, as Democratic or Republican, the 1,105 unique committees to which Alphabet employees have contributed over the past decade and a half.

The majority of the party tags were supplied by the FEC. The rest were categorized by hand. Organizations that might not explicitly identify with a political party but which ideologically are synchronized were issued a party label: the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, for example, was categorized as a Democratic cause. A contribution in the 2010 cycle to Arlen Specter was categorized as a contribution to a Democrat, since he changed party affiliation in 2009.

Here is what the data say about employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries:

 

Since 2004, Alphabet employees have contributed a little over 90% of their political dollars to Democratic candidates and causes. Since 2008, the strongest imbalance came in 2016, when 94% of their contributions went to Democrats. In 2010, Republicans received the largest share of Alphabet employees’ contributions, when they received 19% of political dollars.

The largest contributor over the last decade and a half has been Eric Schmidt, who is listed as CEO, Executive Chairman, Chairman & CEO, and other similar titles.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

 

Emil Pitkin

Emil is CEO of GovPredict. He earned his BA in Mathematics from Harvard and his PhD in Statistics from the Wharton School, where he is the winner of the award for top professor. He is an alumnus of elite Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator and has played Carnegie Hall.