Silicon Valley eyes Mitt Romney

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has reportedly managed to raise at least $1.76 million in Silicon Valley from a number of high-profile individuals, including Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen.

According to Politico, the argument for Romney can essentially be boiled down to a simple message: He knows what it takes to make a company succeed and won’t burden investors with excess taxation, regulation and prosecution. 

Of course, Obama remains popular in the Valley, raising a cool $12.9 million for himself and the Democratic National Committee from donors like Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. 

However, as Politico’s Michelle Quinn and Jonathan Allen point out, Obama’s got competition for tech gold from Romney – even though he obviously won’t be competing dollar for dollar in the Valley.

But he does have a respectable audience, including industry heavyweights like Cisco CEO John Chambers, HP Chief Meg Whitman and Charles Schwab.

“The tech sector is waking up to the fact that Republicans are IT friendly,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). 

And Rey Ramsey, president and CEO of TechNet, noted that the age of “political monoliths” was over. 

“You’ll see money flowing from both sides and both presidential candidates will do well,” he explained. “There are opportunities for both to speak to moving an innovation agenda in the country and how to be competitive with a global perspective. That’s what the tech sector cares about. Whoever speaks to that will have a shot.”

Nevertheless, Obama is definitely less popular in 2012 compared to the days of his 2008 campaign. Indeed, his administration has filed an antitrust suit against Apple and kicked off an antitrust probe of Google. 

In contrast, Romney claims he won’t raise taxes, will keep regulation at a minimum, and maintain a hands off approach towards the Internet. 

“Gov. Romney is more of an attractive candidate for us than Sen. McCain,” one tech executive told Politico. “There could be a sense he might be like us.”

So what are Romney’s chances of swaying tech savvy voters in the Valley?

Well, as one local public affairs strategist put it: “The tech industry is behaving like business interests all across the country. That’s more of a correction than anything else. The question they ask when they look at the Democrats is whether their emphasis on fairness and equity is not aligned with a corporate point of view.”