PRESS RELEASE: The 2016 Candidate Report Card


First Tech Report Card Shows Presidential Candidates Have Work to Do on Startups & Technology Issues

Candidates offer limited positions on critical tech issues

SAN FRANCISCO – March 15, 2016 – Today, Engine and Tusk Ventures released “Grading the Candidates on Tech,” the first report card that grades the 2016 presidential candidates on whether they are passing or failing on a number of issues critical to many startups and technology. Candidates were rated based on their level of support, understanding, and familiarity with technology, startups and the priorities of the tech community. Their final grades reflect candidates' positions on major issues including privacy and security, the on-demand economy and intellectual property.

Secretary Clinton topped the list with a “B+” for her strong positions on net neutrality, broadband access and STEM education. Clinton, like many of the candidates, has yet to take clear positions during the 2016 campaign cycle on several of the most important tech issues examined. Even in the absence of concrete policy proposals, merely speaking in positive terms about tech issues puts Clinton near the top of the class.

Donald Trump came in last with an overall grade of “F”. Trump has yet to announce clear policy agendas or offer public comments on a number of issues examined, including patent reform and access to broadband. Trump recently called for a boycott of Apple and has attacked net neutrality as an attempt by President Obama to control conservative media.

“As technology continues to become a crucial platform for the U.S. economy, I find this report card troubling,” said Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Ventures. “It is yet another indication that we are electing 21st century candidates with 20th mindsets. We need candidates to stop treating the technology community as an isolated add-on that they only consider when they are fundraising and instead start seeing the issues of tech and startups as their own.”

“Given the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to our national economy, it is hugely important that the presidential candidates address some of the most pressing issues facing American startups and tech companies,” said Evan Engstrom, Executive Director of Engine. “The answers to these issues are not easy, and they will require a nuanced, thoughtful approach. But the results of this report card highlight the lack of understanding and attention being paid to these issues in the 2016 election cycle. There is an opportunity here for candidates to go on the record and champion policies that will help startups grow and thrive.”

Additional highlights by candidate:

  • Senator Rubio: Received the highest ranking in “Education, Talent & the Workforce” for sponsoring several bills to expand computer science education and for his consistent support of high-skilled immigration form.
  • Senator Sanders: Earned one of the lowest grades for his opposition to immigration reform for highly-skilled workers, but deserves praise for his support of net neutrality and a clear plan to improve broadband infrastructure.
  • Senator Cruz: Opposed to domestic surveillance programs but famously called net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet”, recently dropped his support of the H1-B visa program.
  • Governor Kasich: Has promoted the expansion of fiber optic broadband in Ohio, but has made no public statements on net neutrality or patent reform to date.

The report card leaves much to be desired from all of the 2016 candidates. The report card was created by Engine, a technology policy, research, and advocacy organization that bridges the gap between policymakers and startups and Tusk Ventures, a political strategy firm focused primarily on helping startups navigate highly regulated markets. The two groups will revisit the candidate positions and explore a new set of issues among the remaining candidates including drone friendliness and worker classification later this Spring.

Click here for the full report card and analysis.