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Can they influence US elections?

by Lottar

A number of US politicians are considering whether a position on digital assets can win votes as the crypto lobby’s footprint grows in Washington.

With the US midterms around the corner, “cryptocurrency voters” are quickly becoming a desirable bloc – and could be on their way to becoming a political force in future elections.

Coupled with this is the progress made by a fledgling “crypto lobby” on Capitol Hill, which has spawned a plethora of trade associations, political action committees and think tanks that have emerged in a short period of time, establishing crypto as a growing player. exhibit in Washington.

“The crypto industry has realized that it cannot sit idly by while politicians try to regulate digital assets. And politicians have woken up to the fact that they can tap into the potential of a new electorate,” said a Washington DC-based political consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity. TRT World. The consultant also advises a portfolio of crypto firms.

While unlikely to be at the top of most Americans’ kitchen table issues, a recent poll shows that a significant number of registered voters care about crypto policy issues.

The survey, conducted by Global Strategy Group and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, found that 44 percent of voters across the US could be described as “crypto voters” – those who own or are considering owning digital assets.

A subset of 17 percent of those voters already own crypto, which is “an extremely competitive group of voters that has tested both Democrats and Republicans in recent elections,” the pollsters said in a statement.

The survey was commissioned by GMI PAC, a crypto-focused group backed by former Trump administration official Anthony Scaramucci, which has raised more than $10 million since it was founded in January, including $2 million from billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the crypto exchange FTX .

Perianne Boring, founder and CEO of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a trade association representing blockchain companies, believes crypto and digital asset policy issues are becoming more popular with mainstream voters because “they closely align with their common values”.

“Any successful technology or network requires adoption and use by society, by the people. This is the question of people who drive innovation. We certainly see this with blockchain and cryptocurrencies – the people are the network,” Boring said TRT World.

A panelist of speakers at the DC Blockchain Summit, held in May 2022. The summit was the largest ever hosted by the Chamber of Digital Commerce, with 800 attendees. (Chamber of Digital Commerce)

What makes the poll’s findings significant is that there are more voters holding crypto than a union membership card in some of the most critical swing states. And if Democrats and Republican operatives figure out how to tap into this new voting bloc and talk to them the right way, they could be on the hook.

In terms of party preference, crypto voters trust Democrats (46 percent) more than Republicans (36 percent). That could be because those who hold digital assets tend to be under 40, a demographic that typically skews Democrat. Despite that, favorable views of crypto are not formed around partisanship.

“Both parties are in a battle to connect with younger Black and Hispanic men – groups that have shown over the past few cycles that they are less calcified in their party preference. These groups also own crypto at much higher rates,” said Bobby Kaple, senior advisor to GMI PAC. “Engaging with them on crypto issues may unlock just enough support to win some of these tight races.”

With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies surging in popularity since the start of the pandemic, millions of people around the world now own digital assets — a market that peaked at $3 trillion before floundering this year, with about 85 million individual wallets currently active.

While owning a digital asset does not necessarily make a voter part of a certain class, it is more about what that asset represents in terms of sentiment.

“Blockchain and digital asset innovations support transparency and privacy, giving wallet owners greater control over their investments. Those values ​​of transparency, privacy and control are becoming increasingly important to American voters,” Boring said.

Given the lack of regulatory guidance, a number of candidates have begun running on pro-blockchain tickets to push for crypto-friendly regulation in upcoming Senate races.

US Representative Ted Budd (R-NC), won his primary bid for a seat in the upper house of the legislature in June and will face Democrat Cheri Beasley in the November race. Similarly, Blake Masters, a Peter Thiel-endorsed Republican, is running against incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly in Arizona.

Budd, a three-term congressman, has introduced or supported a number of crypto-friendly bills over his time in office.

Meanwhile, Ohio will elect one of two pro-crypto candidates for its open Senate seat. Rep. Tim Ryan (D) is a co-sponsor of the Keep Innovation in America Act, a crypto-friendly bill designed to maintain reasonable tax reporting requirements. His challenger, JD Vance, is another Thiel-backed Republican and venture capitalist who owns a significant amount of Bitcoin, who notably tweeted his vision for Ohio as: “pro-God, pro-family, pro-bitcoin.”

Another well-known figure in the crypto industry, Bruce Fenton, ran for the Republican nomination in New Hampshire before losing his bid last month.

“If the number of crypto-curious voters continues to rise, interest from politicians will inevitably continue to grow,” argued the DC-based consultant. “Given demographic trends and adoption levels, I wouldn’t be surprised if crypto becomes a hot-button topic by the next election cycle.”

US Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), known as the

US Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), known as the “crypto queen” in Congress, along with Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, the first comprehensive legislative proposal to create a regulatory framework for creating digital assets. (Reuters)

Crypto goes to DC

As crypto’s public acceptance soared, the industry began targeting Washington DC, much as its private-sector predecessors had done: by spending on lobbying and political campaign contributions to fund lawmakers who could ultimately regulate it.

According to the Congressional Lobbying Disclosure database, the number of lobbyists representing crypto has nearly tripled over the past three years, from 115 in 2018 (with $2.2 million spent) to 320 in 2021 (with $9 million spent).

The biggest lobbying spenders in the sector were Coinbase, Ripple Labs and Blockchain Association, each spending more than $2 million between 2018 and 2021.

Blockchain Association, a group representing more than 100 organizations in the industry, just last month formed its PAC with hopes of influencing and funding candidates interested in the crypto industry in future election cycles.

Blockchain Association PAC’s formation follows a massive surge in crypto lobbying and election funding, with super PACS with industry ties investing millions in the 2022 races.

As of July, crypto PACs have invested more than $31 million in the primaries. According to Roll Call, the industry spent at least $6.8 million on Congress in the second quarter of 2022.

Boring, the CEO of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, points out that there were 70 crypto-related bills introduced in the last session of Congress, calling it “a huge step forward” for the industry and that “the policy ideas and bills that we’re seeing set up indicates that we are on a good track.”

“It is very difficult to legislate, but we know – and policymakers know – that blockchain and digital assets are increasingly important to the US financial markets and the economy. It is crucial that these important components of the global economy have clarity for the industry and certainty for investors,” said Boring.

A flurry of crypto-related legislation came on the heels of the Biden administration’s decision to issue an executive order in March directing agencies to examine the benefits and risks of digital assets — a major milestone for the industry.

In June, bipartisan Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) – dubbed the Senate’s “crypto queen” – and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Responsible Financial Innovation Act, the first comprehensive legislative proposal to create a regulatory framework for creating digital assets in the US.

Many analysts believe the legislation will set the tone for how Congress writes the rules for digital assets in the coming years. The bill would put the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sister agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which currently regulates Bitcoin and Ethereum futures, in charge of the entire crypto market.

In doing so, the SEC, which under the reign of Chairman Gary Gensler, has drawn ire from the industry for its tough stance on crypto.

For Boring, the industry’s collaborative efforts with policymakers are beginning to foster a “constructive dialogue with regulators.”

“Our top priority is to establish a regulatory framework for our industry that encourages competitiveness while supporting consumer protection,” she added.

Source: TRT World

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