Prediction for the New Year: A Web3 Midterm

We recently commissioned a public opinion survey* to gauge how significant the web3 constituency will be as we head into the U.S. midterm elections next year. The findings were mind-blowing for the a16z web3 team, and we wanted to share the results.

We all know 2021 has been an extraordinary year for web3. DAOs rallied to make ownership over important cultural artifacts more democratized. NFTs broke through into the collective consciousness, with everyone from established artists and auction houses to major game studios and well-known musicians leaning in; more importantly, NFTs demonstrated new models for young artists to get their start and retain an ownership stake in their work. Play-to-earn games offered new possibilities for digital economies. And distributed networks helped preserve free speech and tackle the digital divide.

Nowhere did the conversation change more than among policymakers. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill — the largest piece of public works legislation since the New Deal — was funded in part by new tax reporting obligations for digital assets. While the legislation is imperfect, the message is clear: Congress believes web3 is here to stay. In 2021, the 117th Congress introduced bill after bill around digital assets and decentralized technology, while the leaders of the most important federal agencies spent months understanding the ramifications of stablecoins for the integrity of the U.S. financial system and the global economy.

Along the way, web3 has emerged as a major political force. 

One in five Americans now owns digital assets, and 79% of voters would be more likely to support a candidate that supports expanding web3. The vast majority of Americans agree that digital assets are the future. The web3 constituency as a whole is younger, more diverse, and leans left.

Below are a few significant insights from the poll. These numbers reflect the fact that web3 is a source of optimism and excitement about the future among voters. American voters want policymakers to lean in and play an active role in supporting the next generation of the internet.

We couldn’t agree more.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Web3 presents both parties with an important opportunity heading into midterm elections. Voters care about the economy — and that includes web3. This is especially true for young voters and Black/Hispanic voters.

  • If a candidate supported expanding web3, 79% of registered voters say they would be more likely to vote for him or her. 17% are “much more likely” to vote for the candidate. This includes 79% of 18-34 voters, 84% of Democrats, and 75% of registered Independents and Republicans.  73% of Hispanic and 79% of Black registered voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports expanding web3.
  • 22% say congressional, state, or local candidate’s views on Web3 and the future of the internet will have a “significant impact” on their decision to vote for them in 2022. This includes 31% of 18-34 voters, 27% of registered Democrats, and 23% of registered Republicans. 26% of Black and Hispanic registered voters say it will have a significant impact on their 2022 vote.
  • Crypto owners are an important and growing constituency in the Democratic Party; they make up 26% of self-identified Democrats. 61% of crypto owners say they voted for Biden in 2020 compared to just 32% who say they voted for Trump, and Biden remains popular among crypto owners (64% approve / 36% disapprove).

The benefits of web3 are clear and powerful to the vast majority of American voters.

  • After hearing a description of web3—that includes mention of digital assets, NFTs, ownership tokens, and DAOs, 77% of Americans have a favorable view.
  • The top benefits of web3 include: 
    • Giving consumers more control over their own data (93% agree)
    • Improving internet security and privacy (93% agree) 
    • Preventing China from overtaking the U.S. in technology (88% agree) 
    • Supporting individual ownership and the creator economy (85% agree)

Leaders on both sides of the aisle need to ensure their economic strategies include a role for web3. That is especially true for candidates trying to engage communities of color.

Percentage of voters agreeing with the following statements:

All 18-34 age bracket Hispanic voters Black voters
“digital assets are the future of finance” 64% 74% 72% 77%
“crypto gives people direct control over their money” 61% 72% 63% 80%
“crypto allows people a chance at ‘generational wealth’ they may not have previously been offered” 64% 74% 70%  

80%

 

Voters do not want to see heavy-handed efforts to shut down or jeopardize the potential of web3. 

  • 72% of voters say governments should “make sure they understand new web3 technologies and their different uses” before regulating, rather than move quickly to regulate new web3 technologies in order to protect consumers.
  • 59% of voters agree that “governments should play an active role in supporting community-owned web3 platforms to effectively compete with and provide an alternative to Big Tech companies.” 

Crypto owners are increasingly diverse, well-researched, and forward-looking. This isn’t just a fad — it’s also about having more control over your assets.

  • 20% of Americans say they own cryptocurrency. This number rises to 35% among Americans 18-34, 27% among Hispanic Americans, and 30% among Black Americans.
  • 89% of crypto owners say they bought crypto to have “more direct control over my money,” and 74% say they did substantial research (“as much as I could / enough research until I felt confident”) before buying.

* This survey, commissioned by Andreessen Horowitz and conducted by Morning Consult, interviewed 2,191 registered voters in the United States online from December 1-3, 2021. The margin of error of a truly random sample is +/- 2 percentage points; a larger margin of error may apply within subgroups.

***

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