Almost Nine-in-10 Support Candidates Who Ensure U.S. Tech Remains Globally Competitive

As Congress considers legislation to restrict the competitiveness of U.S. tech companies, a new poll finds that likely voters – including those in midterm battleground states and districts – oppose these proposals and want their elected officials to focus on inflation and the cost of living, national security, jobs, and health care. Voters see competition restrictions as misguided and believe they will harm America’s national security and economy.

As a result, these voters are signaling that candidates in competitive races who advocate for these overreaching proposals will lose support this cycle.

The poll, conducted May 13-23, 2022, by Ipsos on behalf of the American Edge Project (AEP), surveyed 1,000 likely midterm voters nationwide, and oversampled 630 likely voters in Senate battleground states as well as 513 likely voters in House battleground districts.

Key findings include:

Policymakers pushing far-reaching tech regulation are pursuing a low priority issue. Voters rate regulating U.S. tech companies as a comparatively low priority (51% priority), below all others tested. Instead, they want their representatives to focus on inflation and cost of living (88% priority), protecting American national security (86% priority), jobs and the economy (85% priority), lowering gas prices (83% priority), and health care (82% priority).

Midterm voters nationwide believe competition restrictions will harm the economy, national security, and small businesses. Voters worry about the economic consequences that could result in breaking up U.S. companies. Their specific concerns include:

  • There could be unintended negative consequences like greater threats to U.S. national security and the U.S. losing its economic competitive edge (89% concerning).
  • Restricting American tech companies from developing innovative new products could make the U.S. less economically competitive (87% concerning). There is also significant concern among voters about potential national security implications. They are concerned that:
  • U.S. consumers and national security could be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks (90% concerning),
  • America could be made less safe by exposing our critical infrastructure to cyber-attacks, exposing our elections to foreign interference, and putting our private data at risk (88% concerning)

There is additional concern about the impact competition restrictions will have on small businesses. Voters are worried that:

  • American small businesses that rely on tech platforms to reach consumers could be hurt because they could be forced to spend more money to attract customers (84% concerning).
  • American small businesses could have to pay more for online advertising, which could make it more expensive for them to operate their business and get new customers (84% concerning).

Voters are signaling that they will shift away from candidates who support efforts to restrict tech competition. Half of midterm voters nationwide say they could not vote for a candidate who supports breaking up American tech companies (50% could never vote), which rises to 59% who say they could not vote for a candidate supporting regulation that limits access to online tools and services, like Amazon Prime and Google Maps, and limits access to free social media services like Facebook, and Instagram (59% could never vote). In contrast, nearly all voters could vote for a candidate who supports protecting small businesses (95% yes, could vote), creating new jobs (95% yes, could vote), getting inflation under control (94% yes, could vote), lowering gas prices (93% yes, could vote), and ensuring U.S. tech companies remain globally competitive (86% yes, could vote).

As a result, voters are poised to reward candidates who prioritize inflation over far-reaching tech regulation. Candidates that prioritize getting cost of living under control have an edge over candidates who are focused on breaking up American tech companies.

Question: If the next election for Congress were today, which candidate would you be more like to support even is neither is perfect?

The bottom line: This cycle, voters want to see elected officials address the priorities that matter to them–issues like national security, jobs and the economy, and healthcare. They view overregulating tech companies as a relatively low priority and are concerned that restrictions are misguided and could have negative unintended consequences like greater threats to national security and the U.S. losing its economic competitive edge. Candidates who support far reaching tech regulation proposals are substantially less favored by voters than candidates who are focused on tackling inflation.

See the survey presentation here and view the methodology at the end of the memo here.