Does Trump care about crypto? Bitcoin is latest battleground in US election

    2024.05.15 | exchangesranking | 74onlookers

    Americans will head to the polls on Nov. 5 to select their next president. The upcoming elections are expected to be a tight race amid increased polarization among voters and generally meager voter turnout. 

    With election day drawing nearer, presidential candidates are competing for the public’s trust and offering promises of a brighter future.

    Now, cryptocurrency has been caught up in the mix.

    Former President Donald Trump seems to have pivoted on crypto, adopting a more conciliatory stance and promising a “good and solid” future for the cryptocurrency industry in the United States.

    However, is Trump really “orange-pilled,” or is he just turning crypto into another partisan political football to secure votes as election day draws closer?

    Trump’s opinion on crypto changes

    During his presidency, Trump was generally critical of cryptocurrencies. He offered up many of the common criticisms coming from politicians, namely that crypto is “based on thin air” and used for drugs and other illicit activities.

    Source: Donald Trump

    However, as the 2024 elections approach, Trump has shifted his narrative. 

    On May 8, during an event for holders of his nonfungible tokens (NFTs) at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, he surprised the crypto community by accusing President Joseph Biden and the current head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gary Gensler, of conspiring against cryptocurrencies, while presenting his candidacy as the alternative for pro-crypto voters.

    Crypto community criticizes Biden’s policy

    Trump’s recent pledge to become a crypto crusader follows the Biden administration’s threat to veto the H.J.Res. 109 SEC crypto bill, which would allow U.S.-regulated financial institutions to custody cryptocurrencies.

    Influential crypto advocates have come out in support of the bill, including Ethereum co-founder and Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson, who accused Biden’s presidency of hurting the “industry in every way possible.”

    In a recent post, Hoskinson mentioned that Trump’s administration “mostly ignored” the crypto industry while “the Biden administration has engaged in a coordinated effort to kill crypto.” 

    “A vote for Biden is a vote against the American cryptocurrency industry.”

    Ryan Selkis, founder and CEO of blockchain analytics firm Messari, claimed that if Biden is reelected, the crypto industry will face a slew of hostile regulations.

    Source: Ryan Selkis

    Trump has picked up on the crypto community’s dissatisfaction with Biden, claiming that “crypto is moving out of the U.S. because of hostility toward crypto.” To stop the migration of the crypto industry from the U.S., “we have to let them be here,” Trump said.

    Does Trump actually care about crypto?

    While some in the crypto community have already declared allegiance to Trump, others are more cynical about the former president’s motivations.

    Mónica Taher, the former tech and business innovation director for the government of El Salvador, told Cointelegraph that crypto is “being utilized by some opportunistic politicians to elevate their status and present themselves as innovators.”

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    Taher believes that Trump is a clear example of this opportunism, as he was “initially against cryptocurrencies but now, due to his financial troubles, is even accepting donations in this manner,” as Trump confirmed at his NFT holder event.

    Trump’s campaign has been hemorrhaging money as it pays to defend the former president against 91 felony counts in two state courts and two federal districts. Crypto could provide a way for the cash-strapped campaign to receive new funding.

    Andrew M. Bailey, co-author of Resistance Money and a fellow at the Bitcoin Policy Institute, told Cointelegraph that he believes “Trump has picked up” the reactive response generated by Senator Elizabeth Warren’s and the Biden administration’s aggressive approach against the crypto sector.

    Bailey said Trump’s new pro-crypto stance “falls within the familiar pattern of saying something positive about crypto, promising to foster innovation, and moving on.” However, he believes that “though his latest bid to court the crypto vote is vague, it might just prove effective no matter how insincere or fuzzy it is.”

    Taher, who has significant experience working closely with politicians, advised to trust only those who genuinely educate their constituents about this new monetary system, as “the primary focus should be on financial inclusion rather than a mere marketing ploy.”

    Crypto holder’s votes could be relevant in swing states

    Regardless of the former president’s motivations, Trump may soon find himself with a new voting block.

    On March 14, Paradigm published a poll that showed that 19% of registered U.S. voters have bought crypto, concluding that “a fifth of the country is not a niche subgroup.”

    Paradigm’s poll further shows that crypto holders are willing to change parties. According to the survey, 48% of respondents support Trump in 2024, but only 39% voted for him in 2020.

    This may prove crucial to turning the tide in so-called “swing states” where the election’s outcome is far from certain.

    Due to their competitive nature, swing states receive significant attention and campaign resources from both parties during elections. As Paradigm writes:

    “This data collectively shows that crypto owners are themselves a swing vote demographic, one that could be decisive if the election is yet another razor-thin race.”

    On May 7, the Digital Currency Group (DCG) published a survey in partnership with The Harris Poll titled “Crypto Attitudes in the Swing States.” The poll collected data from Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Montana, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

    The study revealed an active desire to vote, with 93% of voters claiming they planned to vote in the upcoming elections. This data point is particularly important for a country traditionally known for its low voter turnout rates. Additionally, 74% of the voters considered themselves to be politically engaged.

    These voters are nearly evenly divided politically, with 43% leaning Republican and 45% leaning Democrat.

    Party lean within surveyed voters. Source: Harris Poll

    But crypto is far from the only issue on the ballot this November. Will a presidential candidate’s position on crypto be critical to earning their victory?

    According to the DGC survey, 26% of respondents said they pay attention to a candidate’s stance on crypto, and 21% said crypto is a significant issue to consider during the upcoming election.

    Respondents’ overall position on crypto could be attributed to a feeling of overregulation: 55% are concerned that policymakers will stifle innovation with excessive regulation. Venture capitalist Tim Draper told Cointelegraph:

    “America was known for freedom, and now we are known for inconsistent, unfair, abusive regulation.”

    Overwhelmingly, 83% of respondents wished legislators understood crypto before regulating it.

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    Draper echoed this concern, critiquing regulators’ lack of knowledge and assuring that he believes “most of the people trying to regulate crypto don’t even have a crypto wallet.”

    The November elections are still nearly six months away, so there is plenty of time for candidates’ positions to change or for Trump’s legal troubles to further develop.

    If Trump wants to create a decisive voting block of crypto holders, he will have to convince voters he is a true advocate, such as by offering concrete plans for crypto.

    Otherwise, it could become merely one more politician’s empty promise.

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