On Guard: SF progressives should look to newcomer techies to boost voting bloc

Techies are everywhere.

Their buses cramp our neighborhoods and their tastes displace our favorite bars (goodbye, Lexington). They have even redecorated City Hall, which will was lit Monday in Yahoo purple.

But one space tech workers have not “disrupted,” to use an industry buzzword, is poll booths. A preliminary analysis of voting patterns shows tech workers did not, in overwhelming numbers, vote during the last election cycle in November.

“Right now, tech voters aren't yet a significant voting bloc,” Corey Cook, a professor of politics at University of San Francisco, said while presenting fascinating vote analyses to the progressive political gathering “How We Win: 2015 & Beyond” on Thursday.

A wonk of wonks, Cook has long researched voting patterns in San Francisco. He pointed out that the analyses he offered Thursday were preliminary findings.

Political progressives make up what is generally considered San Francisco's left-leaning political faction. At “How We Win,” they analyzed causes behind their political losses in November, including Proposition G, which sought to heavily fine quick real estate sales.

And as for identifying tech workers at the polls, Cook looked for those between 25 and 34 years old, registered as of 2010 at addresses near commuter shuttle line stops like those used by Google, Facebook and others, and living at properties that changed ownership in the past few years.

“There's a bit of fuzziness,” Cook told me. That said, what he found is revealing.

Tech voters made up 10,000 to 15,000 of the more than 100,000 new registrants in the past year. Registering to vote is one thing, but actually following through is another.

“At least according to the voting file, [tech workers] didn't participate” in the last election, Cook told the audience.

This could present an opportunity for progressives to add to their voting bloc.

“The reality is, most [tech workers] aren't making the same kind of money as people in leadership positions,” progressive Supervisor David Campos told me.

Ron Conway, the angel investor and Mayor Ed Lee backer, and fellow venture capitalist Reid Hoffman together spent more than $750,000 on an independent expenditure committee to take down Campos in his failed bid for the California Assembly.

True political competition is needed in San Francisco for democracy to flourish. And focusing on the affordability crisis may be the progressive voting bloc's path back to political strength.

It is believed that many progressive voters were displaced from San Francisco in recent years — now, more than ever, is the time to find unity with the newcomers.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each Tuesday. Email him at joe@sfexaminer.com.

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