Airbnb, Uber see crucial role in 2016 vote

Airbnb, Uber see crucial role in 2016 vote

The giants of the on-demand economy took to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, making the case that their users were crucial to the 2016 election.

Airbnb’s policy chief, Chris Lehane, presented polling data on the on-demand economy, accompanied at the event by Uber's David Plouffe.

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“I think my big takeaway from the data that’s been presented is that a path to winning, securing the votes of millennials, is really talking about the sharing economy,” said Lehane, a longtime progressive operative who joined the company last year.

“It connects with them; it relates to their daily life; it is going to increasingly be a sector and core of our overall economic future.”

Plouffe said that on-demand economy users were aligned with the diverse coalition that delivered President Obama the White House — first in 2008, when Plouffe managed his campaign.

The event hosted by Airbnb in Philadelphia coincided with the release of data by the home-sharing company that paints a rosy picture of how Americans view the on-demand economy, which is comprised of companies that deliver goods and services to consumers at the tap of a smartphone screen icon.

It found that 67 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Airbnb, while 9 percent have an unfavorable view. Twenty-four percent had no opinion of the service.

The company’s poll, conducted online between July 15 and 19, with a sample size of 1,500 people, found that 82 percent of likely voters said it was important that their candidate for president “embraces innovation.”

Uber and Airbnb are both involved in the Democratic convention. Later on Tuesday, Airbnb will host an event to honor civil rights activists who challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation to the 1964 Democratic gathering. And Uber is an official partner of the convention.

Both companies also tried to present themselves as offering a solution to some of the issues weighing on the nation, including income and racial inequality.

Plouffe argued — in what has become a primary talking point for Uber — that the service provides transportation options in big-city neighborhoods that previously lacked them. And he argued that Americans worried about stagnant wages could turn to the on-demand economy to address their concerns.

"Well, it turns out, whether it’s Airbnb or Uber or some of these other services, it’s probably the most available way for people [to stem wage stagnation],” he said.