The possibly fatal contradictions of the urban anti-Uber crusade have been clear for some time: The politicians most invested in the fight against the gig economy (Bill DeBlasio and company) are also heavily dependent for votes upon its most dedicated consumers—young, educated liberals.
But a new Pew report highlights the depth of the challenges true-blue politicians are likely to face in the long run if they try to bring the sharing economy to heel in the name of protecting established business interests. The report confirms that young people and people under 45 make up the lion’s share of Uber-users, and that they are strongly opposed to new regulations that could shut the company out of the market:
This general anti-regulatory attitude is particularly notable given the overall political leanings of ride-hailing users as a group: As a whole, ride-hailing users are twice as likely to identify as Democrats as Republicans (65% identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 33% identify as or lean Republican). Ride-hailing users who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party believe (by a 54% to 30% margin) that these services should not have to follow the same regulations as incumbent providers.
The same sentiment applies to home-sharing services like AirBnB:
As might be expected, users who are ideologically conservative, along with those who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, feel overwhelmingly that people renting out their homes on these services should not have to pay any sort of taxes in order to do so. But this view is also held – albeit to a lesser degree – by users of these services who are to the left of the political spectrum. Users who are Democrats or lean Democratic believe (by a 51% to 38% margin) that homeowners who use these services should not have to pay taxes as a condition of doing so, and liberal users take an anti-tax stance by a similar margin (54% to 34%).
Free-marketers shouldn’t necessarily take these results as evidence that their limited government and anti-cronyism ideas are winning out overall. More likely, these results reflect the fact that the liberal ideology of the urban professional class has always been selective: Attractive as a form of virtue signaling, but easily abandoned when the bills start coming due. Nonetheless, those of us who believe the sharing economy will play an important role in the 21st century should be heartened by the report, which suggests that the reactionary political coalition looking to sink the gig economy may not be around for much longer.