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Obama to see fall in tech donations

WASHINGTON -- Eric Schmidt, then chief executive of Google, made history in 2008 when he trumpeted Barack Obama on national television, helping the Democratic presidential candidate win a 5-to-1 donation edge from U.S. technology companies.

Much of the industry's wealth has typically flowed toward Democrats, in part owing to its liberal locales and younger executives. Obama widened the gap in a big way in 2008, far surpassing the 2-to-1 advantage Democrat John Kerry enjoyed four years earlier from the tech industry.

But in the run-up to the 2012 election, Obama's record on topics from the Internet to tax policy may cut into the campaign cash he can count on from big tech-connected donors.

“I think his numbers will go down and whoever the Republican candidate is will go up,” said Ralph Hellmann, a lobbyist for the Information Technology Industry Council's (ITIC) political action committee.

Industry political action committees give primarily to congressional races, leaving executives and other company officials to donate directly to presidential candidates.

Still, they give advice to the executives on giving. The political action committee of the ITIC trade group, which represents Apple Inc., Google Inc. and others, gave 65 percent of its donations to Democrats during 2008.

In 2008, donations from executives, workers and others linked to the communications sector gave Obama US$25 million, compared with the US$5 million that went to Republican rival John McCain, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending.

An election cycle earlier, Kerry got about US$10 million from the sector to Republican George W. Bush's US$6 million.

Schmidt said recently he would play a role in Obama's re-election campaign, although it is unclear if it will include the kind of testimonial he provided in an infomercial in 2008.

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