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Political economist Neil Malholtra on why some in Silicon Valley turned on Gavin Newsom


Whether or not Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom survives Tuesday’s recall election may depend to some degree on a small but vocal group of Silicon Valley power players who’ve thrown their weight behind the effort to oust him, including some who previously supported mostly Democratic politicians.

To better understand what happened, we talked recently with political economist and Stanford business school professor Neil Malhotra about research he conducted in 2017 about the political attitudes of the tech elite — and why some seemed so quick to turn on Newsom this year. Our conversation has been edited lightly for length.

TC: How did you get into this line of work?

NM: It was motivated from a historical perspective. When you look at a lot of major changes in American politics and parties, a lot of them have been driven by major business interests and sources of wealth. A good example is the robber barons, including Leland Stanford at the turn of the century. And it looks like we’re going through a similar period right now.

TC: Based on your research, how do attitudes of Silicon Valley folks differ from the California population, as well as the national population in general?

NM: […]

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