Tech Accelerator

2024 US election guide: Where candidates stand on tech

The next U.S. president will set the tone on issues such as AI regulation, data privacy and climate tech. Where do prominent candidates stand on such issues? We're keeping track.

With the 2024 election ahead, TechTarget Editorial is assessing the technology stances of most candidates running for president, including President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. We are researching and collating stances on artificial intelligence, policy plans for China, climate change, H-1B visas and the U.S. workforce. As issues emerge and positions change, we will continue to update this election primer.

Artificial intelligence

The recent boom of generative AI has propelled the technology, including machine learning and deep learning, into the spotlight. AI is also causing concern among political leaders, with the European Union advancing the EU AI Act, while regulation is becoming a hot topic for Congress.

Joe Biden (D), U.S. president, signed an executive order (EO) on AI that will require large AI systems developers to report safety results to the U.S. government.

Donald Trump (R), former U.S. president, supported federal investment in AI research and development. Trump issued an EO in 2019 that focused on the U.S. driving technical breakthroughs in AI and creating standards for the technology's use.

Marianne Williamson (D), author and political activist. Her potential policy on AI is unclear, but in June, she posted on X: "Hard to imagine a greater man-made danger to humanity than nuclear bombs but AI might be it." She said the threat of AI outweighs its benefits.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I), environmental lawyer, supports AI regulation, particularly AI safety.

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on AI could not be ascertained include Cornel West (I), academic and political activist.

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R), North Dakota governor, supports using AI to make "government services more effective" and to improve healthcare and education. He also said it's important to think about guardrails for AI.

Chris Christie (R), former New Jersey governor, opposes AI regulation. During the October 2023 Republican presidential primary debate, Christie said he would make sure every U.S. innovator gets the government "off its back." He supports the use of AI to augment human workers.

Ron DeSantis (R), Florida governor, has shared concerns about data used by AI systems, noting there should be limits as to what AI can do. During a forum in September 2023, DeSantis said ignoring AI would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage with China. He said he would have a "nimble" AI policy and noted one of his AI principles would focus on ensuring the workforce isn't displaced by AI.

Nikki Haley (R), former South Carolina governor. Her position on AI could not be ascertained.

Asa Hutchinson (R), former Arkansas governor, unveiled a now-defunct AI interface on his campaign website to field questions about his positions on issues. When prompted, "What do you think about regulating artificial intelligence?" the interface responded that AI needs to be carefully studied before the government begins "imposing any rules."

Mike Pence (R), former U.S. vice president, said it's time for the U.S. to engage in a discussion about the effects of AI on the economy and privacy.

Dean Phillips (D), Minnesota representative, supports guardrails for AI. In June, Phillips posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter: "If the international community doesn't take immediate steps to manage artificial intelligence, it will surely manage us."

Vivek Ramaswamy (R), biotech entrepreneur, said the U.S. cannot adopt "blanket bans" but thinks companies using AI should be held liable if it negatively affects individuals. He recognizes the benefits of AI, noting use of the technology in his own company but also acknowledges its risks.

Tim Scott (R), South Carolina senator, believes it's important to prepare for AI, which includes helping the next generation think critically about such tech.

Many of the candidates in the 2024 U.S. election
We're keeping tabs on prominent U.S. presidential candidates to compare their stances on tech issues.

Big tech regulation

Republicans and Democrats often disagree on the approach to regulating big tech companies, such as Meta, Google, Apple and Amazon, which are being scrutinized for business competition and data practices. While Democrats focus on business models, with some in Congress suggesting breaking the companies up, Republicans focus on regulating social media platforms for censoring content.

Joe Biden (D) signed an EO promoting competition in July 2021, which played a role in prompting antitrust enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice (DOJ), to file antitrust lawsuits against Meta and Google.

Donald Trump (R). During the Trump administration in 2020, the DOJ sued Google for alleged monopolization of online search. In 2021, Trump targeted social media platforms, suing Meta, X and YouTube owner Google for removing him from their platforms.

Marianne Williamson (D) said the U.S. government should regulate big tech but has not detailed specific actions.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) accuses big tech platforms and the federal government of conspiring to "surveil and censor the public."

Cornel West (I) wants to break up big tech companies.

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R). His position on big tech regulation is unclear.

Chris Christie (R) decries censoring political content. He said letting big tech companies moderate content is a "very dangerous slope to go down."

Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill in 2021 to hold big tech accountable and safeguard Floridians' ability to "access and participate in online platforms." DeSantis has spoken against social media platforms censoring political content.

Nikki Haley (R) opposes censorship practices of social media platforms when it comes to political viewpoints.

Asa Hutchinson (R) believes in a cautious approach to big tech regulation. However, he thinks government can play a role in protecting personal data and ensuring technology is used responsibly.

Mike Pence (R). In 2022, he tweeted that big tech and big business have "locked arms to advance a pernicious woke ideology designed to control the American people."

Dean Phillips (D). His position on big tech regulation is unclear.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) wants political expression classified as a civil right to limit the ability of social media platforms to censor political discourse.

Tim Scott (R) introduced the Political Bias in Algorithm Sorting Emails Act to hold big tech companies accountable for using "biased algorithms" that alter the way consumers see emails from political campaigns.

China and tech

World leaders are looking to broaden their tech supply chains beyond China, which exercises control over areas of manufacturing and mining, including critical components of clean energy devices, such as solar panels and lithium batteries for electric vehicles. China is also a significant producer of semiconductor chips used in phones and computers.

Joe Biden (D) has imposed export controls on technologies such as semiconductor chips and limited business investment capabilities for technologies including AI in China.

Donald Trump (R) ordered tariffs on Chinese imports, including products such as solar panels, steel and aluminum.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) doesn't believe in taking trade action against China but agrees with bringing tech industries, such as semiconductor manufacturing, back to the U.S.

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on China and tech could not be ascertained include Marianne Williamson (D) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) wants to unite the country against "enemies like China."

Chris Christie (R) wants to ban Chinese-owned apps, like TikTok, and prevent intelligence gathering and intellectual property theft by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Ron DeSantis (R) signed three bills in 2023 targeting China, which limit China's ability to purchase agricultural land or land near critical infrastructure and military bases in Florida, stop sensitive data from being stored on servers owned by Chinese affiliates, and address Chinese influence in Florida's education systems.

Nikki Haley (R) has argued for cracking down on China and strengthening the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. She wants to end trade relations with China until it stops its role in moving fentanyl over the U.S. southern border.

Asa Hutchinson (R) supports manufacturing reshoring and supply chain diversification. He also encourages stronger economic competition with China and has a strong human rights stance, according to his website chatbot.

Mike Pence (R) in September 2023 called China the "greatest strategic and economic threat" to the U.S. As part of the Trump administration, Pence implemented tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018.

Dean Phillips (D) voted to pass the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a policy package aiming to boost competition with China by investing in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and tech research and development.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) seeks to ban U.S. businesses from expanding in China, according to his website. He also wants to stop the CCP from purchasing U.S. land and to hold it accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tim Scott (R) has introduced several bills targeting China, including the Protect Our Bases Act to stop CCP land purchases near military bases and other sensitive locations.

Climate policy

The next U.S. president will set the tone for climate policy, incentives and regulatory advances, affecting how CIOs will align business sustainability goals to federal demands. New policies could require businesses to assess and report on carbon emissions throughout their supply chains, develop more sustainable business practices and invest in clean energy. On this issue, there are sharp differences between Democrats and Republicans.

Joe Biden (D) supports climate action and led passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides clean energy incentives to businesses. He has also set a goal to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

Donald Trump (R) has denied climate change. During his term as president, he reversed former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. He rolled back other environmental protections as he championed oil, natural gas and coal industries.

Marianne Williamson (D) supports a "full scale climate emergency mobilization effort." She aims to reduce global warming and lead the planet toward long-term sustainability.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) wants to advance U.S. climate policy and "rebuild a broad environmental coalition to clean up this country."

Cornel West (I) wants to declare a climate emergency and end all oil and gas projects on federal lands and waters. He also wants to place a federal moratorium on "false climate solutions," such as carbon-capture technologies, and rescind the Inflation Reduction Act.

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) set a goal for North Dakota to be carbon neutral by 2030. He supports market-led innovation in reducing carbon emissions and the voluntary adoption of clean energy.

Chris Christie (R) supports expansion of all energy sources, including nuclear power. He said he doesn't believe the U.S. should disarm economically while moving to cleaner power sources.

Ron DeSantis (R) holds complex climate policy views. While he opposes climate regulations, signing a bill earlier this year prohibiting state officials from investing public funds in promoting environmental, social and governance goals, he sees a need for climate resilience. DeSantis signed a $640 million infrastructure bill in 2021 in response to sea level rise.

Nikki Haley (R) recognizes the reality of climate change but stops short of endorsing government intervention. Instead, she advocates for measures such as encouraging fossil fuel companies to invest in carbon-capture technologies. She supported the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Asa Hutchinson (R) doesn't support federal involvement in reducing carbon emissions and wants to end the "war on fossil fuels." He does support market-led transition toward clean energy sources.

Mike Pence (R) acknowledges the human effect on climate but believes climate change concerns are exaggerated. He supports eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency and ending Inflation Reduction Act tax credits for green retrofitting of buildings.

Dean Phillips (D) voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act and has supported legislation in Minnesota cementing environmental protections.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) has staunchly denied climate change. His campaign website outlines goals to "abandon the climate cult," and he supports oil drilling, fracking and burning coal. During the first Republican presidential primary debate, he claimed Biden's clean energy polices stifled innovation.

Tim Scott (R) has not supported measures to address climate change. He wants to expand U.S. energy production and has championed offshore oil drilling.

Cryptocurrency regulation

Regulating digital assets became an essential topic for Congress and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission following the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX in 2022 and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried's arrest on fraud charges. While the SEC currently holds cryptocurrency companies accountable as a federal law enforcement agency, there is no set regulatory framework for cryptocurrency in the U.S. as federal leaders debate the best approach forward.  

Joe Biden (D) signed an EO in 2022 establishing a whole-of-government approach addressing the risks of digital assets and its underlying technology. The EO charged the Dept. of Treasury, Dept. of Commerce and other agency partners with creating policy recommendations and a framework for digital assets including cryptocurrency. The order also required assessment of the technological infrastructure for a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Donald Trump (R) said Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are "not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air" in a 2019 post on X. He said unregulated digital assets can facilitate illegal behavior. However, since leaving office, Trump has heavily invested in cryptocurrency, holding nearly $3 million in digital assets.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) had "no knowledge" of cryptocurrency exchanges such as Bitcoin at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, since then, Kennedy said he recognizes the innovation within the digital assets economy and the independence it fosters, warning that creation of a CBDC could potentially limit that independence.

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on cryptocurrency regulation could not be ascertained include Marianne Williamson (D) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) supported North Dakota becoming a hub for cryptocurrency mining. In 2022, Burgum announced construction of the Atlas Power data center, a $1.9 billion, multi-year project to serve high-performance computing and cryptocurrency mining in his state.

Ron DeSantis (R) has spoken out against creation of a CBDC, calling it the Biden administration's method of "surveillance and control." In 2023, he worked to prohibit the use of a federally adopted CBDC in Florida.

Dean Phillips (D) said he supports adoption of a clear cryptocurrency regulatory framework in the U.S., but also believes "we should make sure we don't stifle innovation."

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) opposes the creation of a CBDC, describing it as a "dangerous scheme for government control over our bank accounts."

Tim Scott (R) serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and is a member of the Financial Innovation Caucus, which aims to explore legislation for digital assets and central bank digital currencies.

Former candidates whose positions on cryptocurrency regulation could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson (R) and Mike Pence (R)

Cybersecurity and business

The public policy debate over cybersecurity has a clear divide. As cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, healthcare institutions and federal officials rise, some lawmakers want the federal government to strengthen its cybersecurity policies and bolster incident reporting from businesses. Other lawmakers argue stringent security requirements could hurt SMBs with limited resources. A president's view on this issue can help set the direction of legislation.

Joe Biden (D) released his National Cybersecurity Strategy in March 2023. The Biden administration wanted to shift the burden for cybersecurity away from small businesses and individuals and "onto the organizations that are most capable and best positioned to reduce risks for all of us." Biden plans to do that by promoting personal data privacy and security and ensuring federal grant programs invest in secure and resilient infrastructure.

Donald Trump (R) issued an EO in 2017 as president to improve the nation's cybersecurity through market power. Trump asked for an examination of federal policies and practices for promoting the market transparency of cybersecurity risk, which would provide customers, investors and regulatory bodies with information about a firm's cybersecurity practices that could in turn influence investment decisions.  

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on cybersecurity and business could not be ascertained include Marianne Willamson (D), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) signed a bill in 2019 as governor of North Dakota to establish a unified cybersecurity strategy across state departments.

Chris Christie (R), as governor of New Jersey, founded the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell in 2015 to lead the state's cybersecurity efforts. Part of its role is to facilitate cybersecurity incident reporting for residents and businesses.

Ron DeSantis (R) signed an EO as governor prohibiting Florida's state and local government entities from buying technology sold by companies operating in foreign countries of concern.

Nikki Haley (R). Her position on cybersecurity and business is unclear.

Asa Hutchinson (R) created the Arkansas Cyber Advisory Council in 2021 as the state's governor to identify and manage cyberattack risk against both state departments as well as Arkansas businesses. 

Mike Pence (R) supported strengthening U.S. cybersecurity as vice president. During a 2018 speech at the Dept. of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity Summit, Pence said cybersecurity was a major focus of his administration.

Dean Phillips (D). His position on cybersecurity and business is unclear.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R). His position on cybersecurity and business is unclear.

Tim Scott (R) helped introduce the Know Your App Act in 2023 to the U.S. Senate. It aimed to shed light on an app's country of origin. The legislation targeted China, where popular apps such as TikTok were created.

Data privacy

Multiple bills introduced in Congress over the last two years aimed to create a federal data privacy law that would set guardrails for businesses collecting user data and establish consumer protections. The data privacy issue has become prominent, particularly since the rise in popularity of social media app TikTok, which Chinese firm ByteDance owns. Multiple U.S. states have banned the app from government devices.

A federal data privacy law has yet to pass in the U.S. as Republicans and Democrats struggle to agree on what such a law should entail.

Joe Biden (D) called on Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation in his EO on AI.

Donald Trump (R). In 2017, Trump repealed Federal Communications Commission rules instilling online privacy protections for consumers from internet service providers. However, his administration began working on a consumer protection privacy policy in 2018 that never came to fruition.

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on data privacy could not be ascertained include Marianne Williamson (D), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) signed an order banning TikTok from government devices in 2022, saying "protecting citizens' data is our top priority."

Chris Christie (R). His position on data privacy is unclear.

Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill in June 2023 creating a Digital Bill of Rights, which gives Florida consumers the right to control companies' access to personal data.

Nikki Haley (R). Her position on data privacy is unclear.

Asa Hutchinson (R) amended Arkansas's Personal Information Protection Act in 2019 to broaden the definition of personal information and introduced new requirements for breach notifications. Under Hutchinson's leadership, Arkansas also banned TikTok in 2023 to protect government data.

Mike Pence (R) called for a U.S. ban on TikTok, which he said compromises consumer privacy.

Dean Phillips (D) introduced a bill in 2021 to designate certain government surveillance tactics as human rights abuses. He recognizes the benefits of new technologies but said they also threaten the ability to control private information.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) wants to ban social media for children under the age of 16, according to his website.

Tim Scott (R) introduced the Know Your App Act in May 2023, mandating app stores to disclose information about the development, location and ownership of apps.

Digital divide

Setting aside funds for improving broadband and telecommunications access across the U.S. to reduce the digital divide, or the gap between communities with access to internet and those without, can be a complicated issue for policymakers in Congress. While there is bipartisan agreement that the digital divide needs to be closed, there is disagreement on whether federal spending and regulation is the avenue through which to do it. 

Joe Biden (D) adopted the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which sets aside $65 billion in funding to expand high-speed internet access across the U.S. Throughout his tenure as president, Biden has also sought to undo the Trump administration's efforts to reduce the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) oversight of telecommunications companies.

Donald Trump (R) invested $86 million to expand rural broadband access in the U.S. through the Dept. of Agriculture. He also sought to reduce the regulatory oversight capabilities of the FCC in an attempt to remove barriers for businesses. 

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on the digital divide could not be ascertained include Marianne Williamson (D), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) supported a funding grant in 2023 from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of $19.7 million to Dakota Carrier Network LLC for improving broadband access in North Dakota.

Ron DeSantis (R) awarded more than $470 million in 2023  through capital project funds and grants to connect unserved and underserved homes, businesses and hospitals to high-speed internet.

Asa Hutchinson (R) named improving and expanding broadband access in Arkansas a high priority for his administration in 2019.

Mike Pence (R) supported improving broadband access and restricting the FCC's regulatory authority during his tenure as vice president under the Trump administration.

Dean Phillips (D) voted to pass the Biden administration's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocated $100 million to improve broadband internet access in his home state of Minnesota.  

Tim Scott (R) supported robust measures for improving rural broadband access in stimulus packages that advanced following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former candidates whose positions on the digital divide could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Nikki Haley (R) and Vivek Ramaswamy (R).

Facial recognition technology

Facial recognition is a technology that uses biometric software and AI capabilities to identify a person in photos or videos. Some of the biggest tech companies have used the tech conservatively -- as a security feature to unlock devices or, in the case of Meta, as a photo tagging service that it shut down in 2021. But its use by government and law enforcement officials has been scrutinized and commercial development as well as the debate it raises around privacy is still in its infancy.

Joe Biden (D) signed an EO on AI in 2023 that broadly calls for safeguards around the use of such technology. It also recognizes issues with AI's workplace surveillance capabilities and calls for mitigating those risks.

Donald Trump (R) supported facial recognition technology in airports to stop criminals from fraudulently using U.S. travel documents.

Marianne Willamson (D) advocates for immigration justice and rejects the use of facial recognition surveillance programs that she said are "riddled with racial discrimination issues."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) on his campaign website accuses the U.S. government and tech platforms of surveilling the public and advocates for greater transparency. He posted on X that he is concerned about normalizing government use of facial recognition technology.

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on facial recognition technology could not be ascertained include Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Ron DeSantis (R) signed a law in June 2023 creating the "Florida Digital Bill of Rights" that gives Florida residents the right to opt out of companies' personal data collection through the operation of voice or facial recognition features.

Mike Pence (R) supported facial technology use in airports to stop criminal activity under the Trump administration.

Dean Phillips (D) introduced bills in the past, including the Foreign Advanced Technology Surveillance Accountability Act in 2021, to help the U.S. assess and address foreign governments' use of facial recognition technologies for civil rights abuses.

Former candidates whose positions on facial recognition technology could not be ascertained include Doug Burgum (R), Chris Christie (R), Nikki Haley (R), Asa Hutchinson (R), Vivek Ramaswamy (R) and Tim Scott (R).

Gig work and unions

Under the gig employment model, workers are independent contractors rather than employees and use apps to manage their schedule and assignments. That's in contrast to temp services, where workers typically have status as employees. Currently, there is a policy debate over whether gig workers should be employees, eligible for benefits and legal protections. In 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a rule that may help expand unionization to gig work. How candidates see the role of unions might reveal how they feel about unionization of gig workers and the tech industry generally.

Joe Biden (D). The Biden administration wants labor protections expanded to gig workers. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a rule allowing more gig workers to be reclassified as temp workers. Biden has also repeatedly called for more union workers, something that may have been facilitated by a recent NLRB ruling.

Donald Trump (R). His administration adopted a rule that made it easier for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors. He is an opponent of unions.

I love that we are one of the least unionized states in the country.
Nikki HaleyFormer governor of South Carolina

Marianne Williamson (D) described the Writers Guild of America strike "as a pivotal moment in the counteroffensive against vulture capitalism."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) backed the UAW strike and said he will support labor.

Cornel West (I) said the U.S. has an "oligarchic economy" that benefits the wealthy.

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) holds an unclear position on gig work but doesn't believe unions are necessary for good worker outcomes.

Chris Christie (R) is a strong critic of teachers' unions.

Ron DeSantis (R) signed a law that allows businesses to provide financial or other benefits to a gig worker during an emergency without creating a formal employer-employee relationship.

Nikki Haley (R) outlined her view on unions in a 2012 State of the State address as governor of South Carolina: "I love that we are one of the least unionized states in the country. It is an economic development tool like no other."

Asa Hutchinson (R)supports the gig economy and wants social programs modernized, including portable health insurance, to facilitate its expansion, according to his website chatbot.

Mike Pence (R) has supported right-to-work laws, giving workers choice whether they want to join a union. His view on gig work was likely reflected by Trump administration actions, which were supportive of independent workers.

Dean Phillips (D) showed support for the recent United Auto Workers (UAW) strike.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) took a gig-like approach to fundraising, giving people who helped raise funds a cut of the donation. He has called for the elimination of federal employee unions, according to his website.

Tim Scott (R) introduced legislation to preserve the employment flexibility of gig and other independent workers.

H-1B work visa program

Without legislation by Congress, a president cannot change the annual 85,000 H-1B visa cap. However, regulatory and administrative capabilities give a president the power to affect corporate access to the program.

Joe Biden (D). After taking office in 2021, Biden reversed some of Trump's H-1B initiatives, including an effort to block new visas, and visa approval rates increased. Biden has cited the Senate's 2013 comprehensive immigration bill, which wasn't considered by the House, as a potential model for H-1B reform, which proposes raising the H-1B cap from 85,000 to 205,000, increasing visa wages and limiting companies to having at most 50% of the workforce on a visa.

Donald Trump (R) promised to reform the program. As president, his administration challenged visa petitions from offshore outsourcing firms through administrative oversight and visa rule changes. In the closing days of his presidency, his administration issued a rule to raise wages of H-1B workers by adopting a wage-based distribution system instead of the lottery, a proposal the U.S. federal court struck down. In 2024, Trump's focus has been on broader immigration issues and border security.

Marianne Williamson (D) calls for expanding "the number of visas available to immigrants."

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on the H-1B visa program could not be ascertained include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) supports increasing visas for skilled workers. "We want to help highly educated, highly skilled people that want to come to the United States to work for U.S. companies be able to do that," he said.

Chris Christie (R). His position on the H-1B visa program is unclear.

Ron DeSantis (R) is a critic of the H-1B program, saying he doesn't "support undercutting American wages."

Nikki Haley (R) has broadly called for Congress to act on immigration reform. She has argued for bringing people into the U.S. "based on merit" and economic needs.

Asa Hutchinson (R) supports merit-based immigration and wants a work visa system that supports policies that require good-faith efforts to hire American workers and hold employers accountable for fair wages and working conditions, according to his website chatbot.

Mike Pence (R) said in September the U.S. "should end H-1B visas in the United States in the high-tech sector "where there are national security implications" in a post on X. Pence's comment is aimed at China, accounting for about 12% of all H-1B users.

Dean Phillips (D) was a co-sponsor of the Eagle Act, which removed per-country caps for green cards. The bill failed to advance in 2022.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) called the program a form of indentured servitude and said he wants the H-1B visa lottery replaced by meritocratic admission. Ramaswamy's company, Roivant Sciences, sponsored H-1B visa holders for data analyst, machine learning engineer and clinical database programmer positions. He stepped down from his role as the board chair in February 2023.

Tim Scott (R) supports a merit-based point system on immigration that favors candidates with needed skills, including science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Noncompetes ban

In April 2024, the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-2 to pass a ban on employers entering into noncompete agreements with employees, a move the agency hopes will boost competition and increase employee wages. Regardless, the debate about noncompetes and their usefulness continues, and the FTC ban is likely to face legal challenges during the next administration.

Joe Biden (D) issued an EO on competition in 2021 in which he urged the FTC to focus on competition in labor markets and specifically on noncompete clauses that stifle competition. 

Donald Trump (R) continued an Obama-era policy during his administration banning no-poach agreements, another type of restrictive covenant between employers and employees. However, it's unclear how Trump would approach the FTC's noncompetes ban, since Trump used a noncompete clause in 2016 for campaign employees, and the two Republican FTC members voted against the ban.

Marianne Williamson (D) has spoken out against noncompete clauses and wants to work with Congress to end them. Williamson believes noncompete agreements drive down employee wages and deny employees the opportunity for better employment, according to her website.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) claims to be a strong supporter of labor rights, including rights to meaningful wages and benefits. He has not addressed noncompete agreements specifically.

Cornel West (I) wants to establish a worker's bill of rights that provides greater protections to workers. He has not addressed noncompete agreements specifically.

Remote work policy

Teleworking by federal employees is a partisan issue. Congressional Republicans are seeking limits on remote work, while Democrats have expressed support for liberal telework policies. Federal agencies argue that telework options are necessary to compete with private sector companies for specialized jobs in the labor market, especially IT.

Joe Biden (D) was a proponent of remote work for federal employees, but his support has turned lukewarm, especially as federal buildings in Washington became underutilized. His administration is urging federal workers to spend more time in the office.

Donald Trump (R) is a long-time critic of remote work, believing it hurts productivity and collaboration. When Yahoo ended remote work in 2013, Trump signaled his approval, tweeting that "when employees are working at home they can never have the same cohesiveness as working together as a group."

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on remote work could not be ascertained include Marianne Willamson (D) and Cornel West (I) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I)

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R) supported telework during the pandemic.

Ron DeSantis (R) has said little about the subject, but the Florida state government allows telework.

Nikki Haley (R) once claimed, incorrectly, that 70% of federal workers telework, a comment that appeared to be a criticism, but she has said little about it otherwise.

Asa Hutchinson (R) supported telework during the pandemic.

Mike Pence (R) supported telework during the pandemic.

Dean Phillips (D) voted "no" on the SHOW UP Act of 2023, a bill requiring federal workers to return to the telework policies prior to COVID-19. The act was approved by the House in February 2023, in a mostly party line vote 221 to 206.

Former candidates whose positions on telework could not be ascertained include Chris Christie (R), Vivek Ramaswamy (R) and Tim Scott (R).

Section 230 and online content moderation

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields digital platform operators such as Meta, X and YouTube from liability for content posted by third parties. Democrats want to limit Section 230 liability protections. Republicans want Section 230 changed to restrict social media platforms from moderating content.

Joe Biden (D) has called for Section 230 reform to make it easier for consumers to file lawsuits against big tech companies and hold digital platforms accountable.

Donald Trump (R) wants to repeal Section 230. He issued an EO in 2020 to curb digital platforms' ability to remove certain online content.

Marianne Williamson (D) believes the federal government needs more regulations governing social media platforms.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) believes in limiting platforms' ability to remove online content. He alleges on his campaign website that government institutions and tech companies are conspiring to "surveil and censor the public."

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on Section 230 and online content moderation could not be ascertained include Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Doug Burgum (R). His position on Section 230 is unclear.

Chris Christie (R). His position on Section 230 is unclear.

Ron DeSantis (R) believes in limiting platforms' ability to remove online content. He signed a state Senate Bill 7072 into law in 2021 that would hold big tech companies accountable for censoring content or deplatforming Floridian political candidates.

Nikki Haley (R) has expressed concern over online content moderation.

Asa Hutchinson (R) believes big tech should play a role in online content moderation but also wants to preserve free speech, according to his online AI chatbot AskAsa.

Mike Pence (R) supported curbing tech platforms' ability to remove online content under the Trump administration.

Dean Phillips (D). His position on Section 230 is unclear.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) wants to amend Section 230. He doesn't believe tech companies should be responsible for moderating online content.

Tim Scott (R) wants to reform Section 230 and limit tech platforms' ability to moderate online content.

Space industry

Space is the next business frontier as federal agencies such as NASA partner with commercial companies to study long-duration stays, and businesses continue to launch their own satellites and develop the space tourism industry. The U.S. president will play a critical role in guiding regulations and setting the space policy for the nation.

Joe Biden (D) endorsed NASA's Artemis program in 2021 to establish a long-term presence on the moon. The White House is also working on a legislative proposal for commercial space activities that would split regulatory authority between the Dept. of Commerce and Dept. of Transportation. 

Donald Trump (R) signed a space policy in 2017 that pushed for astronauts to return to the moon and encouraged explorations to Mars and beyond. He also signed a law establishing a new branch of the U.S. military, the U.S. Space Force, in 2019.

Marianne Williamson (D) supports space exploration but is cautious about how it's done. In a post on X, Williamson said the "weaponization of space is a tragic perversion of our values."

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on the space industry could not be ascertained include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Ron DeSantis (R) signed the Spaceflight Entity Liability Bill into Florida law in May, which shields commercial space companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX from liability if crewmembers or passengers are killed or injured during flights. DeSantis has regularly engaged in space development efforts as governor of Florida.

Asa Hutchinson (R) plans to prioritize investments in space exploration, promoting commercial space development and fostering collaboration between government agencies, private industry and international partners, according to Hutchinson's AI interface AskAsa.

Mike Pence (R) supported space exploration during his tenure under the Trump administration and encouraged NASA's plans to return to the moon and engage in exploratory missions to Mars.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) is in favor of space exploration and supports the U.S. leading the way to "establishing roots" on Mars.

Tim Scott (R) appears to support U.S. space exploration, according to a 2021 post on Facebook.

Former candidates whose positions on the space industry could not be ascertained include Doug Burgum (R), Chris Christie (R) and Nikki Haley (R) and Dean Phillips (D).

Supercomputers and federal R&D

The U.S. government funds some of the world's priciest supercomputers, generally beyond private sector budgets, and provides research access to universities and businesses. These supercomputers enable advanced simulations for applications like hurricane predictions, drug discovery and engine testing. Political candidates' stances on supercomputing might emerge when comparing U.S. capabilities to China's and could be tied to their positions on federal R&D expenditures.

Joe Biden (D). In 2022, the Biden administration earmarked $1.5 billion under the Inflation Reduction Act to be used for supercomputer development. Some of the semiconductor development work enabled by the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act will be spent on the technology needed for a zettascale supercomputer, or 1,000 exaflops.

Donald Trump (R), as president, funded the $600 million Frontier supercomputer at the federally funded Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the first system exceeding an exaflop. As of June 2023, it topped the Top 500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Trump's budget proposals have wavered between increases and decreases in R&D.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I). His federal R&D views are unclear, but his commitment to science may be questioned because of his stated opposition to the use of vaccines.

POSITION UNCLEAR

Candidates whose positions on supercomputers and federal R&D could not be ascertained include Marianne Williamson (D) and Cornel West (I).

DROPPED OUT

Ron DeSantis (R)plans to eliminate the Department of Energy, which is responsible for building many of the supercomputers used by academics and businesses. The department also invests heavily in basic and applied research.

Nikki Haley (R)has been a board member of Boeing, which uses U.S. supercomputers for research. Her broader position on federal R&D is unclear.

Mike Pence (R) never voiced opposition to investment in supercomputing as a member of the Trump administration. As a candidate, Pence proposed some budget freezes that might affect R&D investment.

Dean Phillips (D) voted in favor of the CHIPS Act in 2023, which may be indicative of his position on this topic.

Vivek Ramaswamy (R) has proposed cutting the federal workforce by as much as 75%, likely hurting federal R&D.

Tim Scott (R) did not vote in favor of the CHIPS Act in 2023, which may be indicative of his position on this topic.

Former candidates whose positions on supercomputers and federal R&D could not be ascertained include Doug Burgum (R), Chris Christie (R) and Asa Hutchinson (R).

Editor's note: This guide was originally published Nov. 8, 2023 and has been updated to reflect changes in candidate stances and campaign statuses.

Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget Editorial, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.

Patrick Thibodeau covers human capital management and ERP technologies. He has worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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