The economy. Immigration. Climate change. Abortion.
Elections hinge on hot-button issues like these.
But a new wedge issue is emerging in American politics—one that is poised to turn out millions of voters to the polls. One that scrambles party lines and demographic boundaries. One that could well determine the outcome of the next presidential election.
In contrast to 2020, crypto holders are coalescing into a coherent voting bloc in 2024. Millions of these voters live in key swing states where the last presidential election was decided by the narrowest of margins. And millions consider crypto to be a make-or-break issue at the ballot box, according to research from Morning Consult.
The Rise Of The Crypto Voter
The rise of the crypto voter tracks directly with the rise of crypto as an asset class.
Keep in mind that the bulk of the last Bitcoin bull run took place after the 2020 presidential election. It was months before Michael Saylor donned a laser-eyed profile picture, corporate brands started tweeting “WAGMI,” and Elon Musk shilled dogecoin on national TV.
Biden’s election was followed by the most explosive period of retail adoption in the industry’s history. The last bull run minted a new class of millionaires—and a much larger class of crypto voters.
Today, 1 in 5 Americans owns digital assets. That’s 52 million people. Perhaps most striking is the political composition of this demographic: according to survey data from Coinbase and Morning Consult, 22% of respondent crypto holders identified as Democrats, 18% as Republicans, and 22% as Independents. Moreover, 60% are Gen Z or Millennials, and 41% are minorities.
Young, diverse, and bipartisan. These are the three primary characteristics of the crypto constituency. While this voting bloc was a non-factor in 2020, it is primed to play an outsize role this November.
Courting the Crypto Vote: The Key To The White House?
Swing voters decide elections. That’s why campaigns are building their teams in battleground states like New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Morning Consult conducted a poll to gauge crypto sentiment in these four swing states. In doing so, it discovered millions of Americans for whom digital assets is a top issue.
The most important finding? Approximately 18% of voters in these states (or 3.4 million people) hold digital assets. And an eye-popping 55% of those said they would be less likely to vote for candidates who stand in the way of crypto values. Those values include a belief that the current economic system is not fair and favors big business, and a corresponding desire for a decentralized, web3 economy.
In other words, crypto could decide the votes of up to 1.9 million voters across these four swing states alone—enough to tip the election.
These swing states are often decided by the slimmest of margins. In 2020, for example, Biden edged Trump by only 82,000 votes in Pennsylvania and only 34,000 votes in Nevada.
Given the rapid growth of this voting bloc, candidates could redraw the electoral map in 2024 by simply adopting pro-crypto positions. The numbers paint a clear picture: whichever presidential nominee secures the crypto vote could also secure the White House.
The crypto vote is essentially up for grabs, and the sheer size of this voting bloc presents a tremendous opportunity for political candidates. To better understand this opportunity, I reached out to Faryar Shirzad, Head of Policy at Coinbase.
“There are tens of millions of Americans who have participated in the crypto economy,” said Shirzad. “When I talk to innovators around the country, the passion they have for what blockchain can do is incredible. Any politician who ignores this passionate community is missing an important and motivated part of the American electorate.”
Biden, Bitcoin, and Young Voters
Now here’s the irony: despite the political upside of embracing Bitcoin and crypto, the two parties’ leading contenders—Joe Biden and Donald Trump—have mostly stayed away from it.
In the case of President Biden, he appears disinterested in engaging with this cohort of voters altogether. Indeed, many of his policies have alienated digital asset holders.
Last year, for example, President Biden accused “wealthy crypto investors” of exploiting tax loopholes supported by “MAGA Republicans.” Meanwhile, his top cop at the Securities and Exchange Commission—Chair Gary Gensler—has sought to subdue crypto exchanges and protocols with a regulation-by-enforcement approach that has been decried by multiple members of Congress. And one of his strongest allies in the Senate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has raised an “anti-crypto army” to wage war on the industry.
Could the administration’s hostile posture towards crypto come back to haunt Biden in November?
Gemini Co-founder and President Cameron Winklevoss seems to think so. In a post on X, Winklevoss expressed his view that Senator Warren and Chair Gensler’s “war against crypto is going to alienate an entire generation of would-be Democrats.” In Winklevoss’s view, Warren and Gensler could be an albatross around Biden’s neck by reminding voters of his administration’s crack down on crypto companies and investors.
Given Biden’s aggressive approach to digital asset regulation, will Donald Trump distinguish himself from his competitor by taking the opposite tack?
Trump’s Big Opportunity
By simply embracing Bitcoin and the values of decentralization, Trump could poach pro-crypto Democrats and Independents that would have otherwise voted for Biden. And he could make a play for the 1.9 million people in swing states like New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for whom crypto is a top concern. In 2020, Trump lost three of these four states by razor-thin margins. But he could win them back by catering to crypto voters.
There’s just one hang-up: Trump has previously expressed skepticism of digital assets. In an interview on Fox Business in June 2021, Trump said, “Bitcoin, it just seems like a scam. I don’t like it because it’s another currency competing against the dollar.”
So is Trump set in his ways? Is he destined to oppose Bitcoin forever? Or could the allure of a new voting coalition entice the Orange Man to embrace the Orange Coin?
While Trump has taken a hardline against crypto in the past, there is growing evidence that his stance has softened significantly in the last two years. In December 2022, for example, he launched a collection of NFT trading cards to gin up support from his base. To build on this success, he launched a new collection of “Mugshot” NFTs last month. This new NFT raise came on the heels of a report which showed that Trump at one time owned $2.8 million in cryptocurrency on an Ethereum wallet, according to financial disclosure documents.
Trump has dipped his toes in the crypto waters by experimenting with NFTs. Could he cannonball into bitcoin next? Whether he does could change not only his financial portfolio but the electoral map in 2024.