Crypto Is an Election Issue This Year. Is That a Good Thing?

An online survey conducted by blockchain conglomerate Digital Currency Group found that more than 20% of voters in several swing states consider crypto to be a key issue in the upcoming U.S. elections. The poll is the latest sign that crypto is increasingly becoming an electoral issue, with more and more politicians on both sides of the issue willing to condone or condemn crypto.

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This is in marked contrast to the last presidential election cycle, before the days of so-called single-issue voters like Ryan Selkis (who is speaking at Consensus this May) took up the charge of trying to find and support pro-crypto pols.

Crypto is also on the minds of candidates themselves. Former President Donald Trump has done an about-face on his earlier criticisms of crypto, seemingly because he sees the industry as a potentially powerful (and lucrative) ally. Outsider candidate Robert F. Kennedy has also become a vocal supporter of Bitcoin (RFK will also be speaking at Consensus this May).

Interestingly, crypto seems to be of particular importance in key battleground states including Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to an online Harris Poll survey of over 1,000 voters in each state commissioned by DCG in early April. One-third of voters with “crypto-positive” views think politicians should make regulating crypto a priority.

“This data shows crypto is top of mind for voters in swing Senate states and that a pro-crypto position is a net positive for policymakers and candidates,” said Julie Stitzel, senior vice president of policy at DCG in a statement. “The poll also underscores a strong desire for policymakers to establish reasonable regulations that protect consumers without stifling innovation.”

The data comes at a time when crypto companies and influential advocates have become increasingly vocal about the political x-risks of crypto. In October, for instance, potential voters helped raise over $2 million for the Coinbase-led nonprofit Stand With Crypto that aims to influence state and federal crypto policy.

The super PAC reportedly is focusing attention on ousting or influencing crypto skeptics like Senator Sherrod Brown, who is facing a tight reelection in Ohio. Fairshake, perhaps the largest crypto super PAC, said it is dedicating resources in four Senate races this year: primaries in Maryland, Michigan, Montana and the aforementioned Ohio.

While fighting for what you believe in is certainly a noble cause, the general public is often grossed out and disconcerted by overt flows of money into politics. This may be especially true for crypto following the FTX scandal, which saw Sam Bankman-Fried funding at least one-in-three members of Congress and funneled money into races across the country (with mixed results).

There is also never a guarantee that once in office, politicians will do or support what they said on the campaign trail. Take Gary Gensler, who although wasn’t elected was expected to be a more lenient head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) because of his experience teaching about the industry at MIT.

All I can say is, if influence can be bought, then it can be sold too.

 

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