Study: More than 90 percent of political donations by Alphabet Inc. employees went to Democrats

Study: More than 90 percent of political donations by Alphabet Inc. employees went to Democrats
An empty seat for Google is seen Wednesday during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing concerning foreign influence operations' use of social media platforms, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg faced questions about how foreign operatives use their platforms in attempts to influence and manipulate public opinion. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Since 2004, more than 90 percent of political donations made by Alphabet Inc. employees went to Democratic candidates and causes, according to a new study by GovPredict. Alphabet is the parent company that owns search giant Google.

The largest gap occurred in 2016, with 94 percent of contributions going to Democrats. That amounted to $5.8 million in donations to Democrats compared to $403,000 for Republicans, the study states.

The spike suggests that a flurry of donations came in response to President Donald Trump’s candidacy, according to the report.

Employees at Alphabet donated just $1.6 million to Republicans between 2014 and 2017.

What about objectivity?

The study underscores the idea that “everything we read, see and hear is being controlled by tech industry employees with a left-wing political bent,” PJ Media wrote.

Google has repeatedly claimed it does not play favorites nor manipulate search results.

PJ Media explained how a social media employee could influence a search algorithm.

“Imagine you’re Twitter and you have a machine learning algorithm you’re training to identify Nazis on Twitter. You put a person in the loop who thinks Trump is a Nazi and anyone who says anything favorable about Trump is a Nazi sympathizer. (They exist: I lost a couple of friends when they called me a Nazi sympathizer for just that reason.)

“The algorithm spots someone liking the tax cuts: the person says, ‘he’s a Nazi.’ The algorithm soberly notes that. It doesn’t know any better, it has no more understanding than an old-fashioned tabulating machine understood why it put the A and B cards into different bins.”

How was the study designed?

GovPredict’s study set out to determine the political preferences of Alphabet employees, as revealed by their political giving histories, and how their preferences have evolved over time.

GovPredict explains the methodology it used for the study:

“Our analysts and machines first had to identify the variants of employer name that Alphabet employees used when filing election contributions. The final list had 233 variants, including ‘Google Ventures,’ ‘Nest Labs,’ ‘Nest at Google,’ ‘Verily (Google Life Sciences),’ and the like.” The researchers also had to categorize as either Democrat or Republican “the 1,105 unique committees to which Alphabet employees have contributed over the past decade and a half.”

“The majority of the party tags were supplied by the FEC. The rest were categorized by hand. Organizations that might not explicitly identify with a political party, but which ideologically are synchronized, were issued a party label: the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, for example, was categorized as a Democratic cause. A contribution in the 2010 cycle to Arlen Specter was categorized as a contribution to a Democrat, since he changed party affiliation in 2009.”

The study was led by Emil Pitkin, CEO of GovPredict. Pitkin holds a Ph.D. in statistics from the Wharton School, where he is a faculty member.

In 2010, Republicans received their largest share of Alphabet employees’ contributions (19 percent), according to the report.

The GovPredict study is the first in a series that will examine the political preferences of major American companies.