It's in vogue for Democrats to decry the sharing economy as exploitative and unsafe. Cities across the country, nearly all of them headed by liberals, have cracked down on companies like Lyft and Airbnb that allow regular people to earn money by providing rides across town or renting out their spare bedrooms. Austin, Texas, recently regulated ride-sharing out of existence completely, while New York Mayor Bill de Blasio last year tried to require the industry to cease growing. Democratic presidential wannabe Bernie Sanders brags about the "serious problems" he has with Uber. And if you were a Reason subscriber you'd already have access to the July issue, which features a piece on Hillary Clinton's disdain for the popular ride-hailing app.
Yet according to a new study from Freedom Partners (full disclosure: I worked there in 2014), Democratic congressional candidates spend more money on ride-sharing services than Republicans do.
Researchers Michael Decker and Thomas Kise looked at Federal Election Commission congressional campaign filings and found that five of the top six spenders on ride-sharing so far this election cycle are Democrats. Likewise, that party represents five of the top seven spenders on websites like Airbnb and HomeAway that let travelers rent out a couch, room, apartment, or house rather than shelling out for a hotel, the report says.
"When you look at politicians and policy makers like Secretary Clinton and like Bernie Sanders and others, it's kind of unfortunate that [despite] being some of the harshest critics, their campaigns continue to use the services," Kise says. "That's kind of interesting."
Overall use of these apps and websites is through the roof: According to the paper, ride-sharing accounts for "more than 80 percent of total rides appearing in campaign committee filings" for the 2016 cycle. In fact, campaigns have gotten more rides through companies like Uber and Lyft so far this election (over 5,000) than there were total combined taxi and ride-share trips four years ago (less than 3,000). This suggests that the new economy isn't just replacing the old one—it's actually growing the market.
"As we look at these numbers and we see a growth in usage and overall market share [it seems clear] that these congressional campaign committees have found value in these services," Kise says. "If they're finding value, and the American people are finding value, they should not get in the way and stifle that" by pushing for more and stricter sharing-economy regulations.
A guy can hope.