Predispositions and the Political Behavior of American Economic Elites: Evidence from Technology Entrepreneurs

Predispositions and the Political Behavior of American Economic Elites: Evidence from Technology Entrepreneurs

By
David Broockman, Gregory Ferenstein, Neil Malhotra
American Journal of Political Science. January
2019, Vol. 63, Issue 1, Pages 212-233

Economic elites regularly seek to exert political influence. But what policies do they support? Many accounts implicitly assume economic elites are homogeneous and that increases in their political power will increase inequality. We shed new light on heterogeneity in economic elites’ political preferences, arguing that economic elites from an industry can share distinctive preferences due in part to sharing distinctive predispositions. Consequently, how increases in economic elites’ influence affect inequality depends on which industry’s elites are gaining influence and which policy issues are at stake. We demonstrate our argument with four original surveys, including the two largest political surveys of American economic elites to date: one of technology entrepreneurs—whose influence is burgeoning—and another of campaign donors. We show that technology entrepreneurs support liberal redistributive, social, and globalistic policies but conservative regulatory policies—a bundle of preferences rare among other economic elites. These differences appear to arise partly from their distinctive predispositions.