President Obama used YouTube this week to ask his fellow Americans to join him at a town hall meeting on Facebook.
Dubbed the “Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity Town Hall,” the event will be streamed live on the site on Wednesday afternoon, with the President answering citizen’s questions. On the event’s Facebook page, more than 28,000 people have said they will “attend.”
Facebook officials did not respond to a request for comment on Zuckerberg’s voting history.
The President will be selling his deficit-reduction plan and campaigning for re-election during his trip to the Bay Area. Political scientists see his appearance at Facebook as an attempt to reconnect with younger voters, like Zuckerberg.
“There was a higher than normal turnout in 2008 by younger voters that accounted for a not insubstantial part of his win,” said David Tabb, professor emeritus of political science at San Francisco State University. “One way that they think that they can generate turnout is to identify Obama with those things that young people care about, and obviously one of those is Facebook.”
This will not be 26-year-old Zuckerberg’s first close-encounter with President Obama. He dined with the President in February with other Silicon Valley CEOs, including Larry Ellison of Oracle, John Chambers of Cisco and Steve Jobs of Apple.
True to his voting record, Zuckerberg made no political donations in the 2008 or 2010 election cycles, according to data from the Federal Election Commission. He’s also not listed as a major donor to any campaigns in the state, according to California’s Secretary of State’s web site.
Facebook has been trying to raise its profile in Washington D.C. since it hired Sheryl Sandberg as its COO in 2008. Sandberg was chief of staff at the Treasury during the Clinton administration. A registered Democrat, she votes reliably, casting her ballot in November 2010, June of 2010, November 2009, May of 2009, November of 2008 and February of 2008.
On Wednesday night, President Obama will be dining with 60 Silicon Valley bigwigs at the home of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who is registered to vote in San Francisco, but lists his party affiliation as “decline to state.”
Benioff, who is 46, has a more prodigious voting history than Zuckerberg, but he’s missed a few turns at the polls recently, too. He voted in November 2010, November 2008, and the presidential primary in February 2008, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections.
But he did not vote in June 2010, November 2009, May 2009 or June of 2008, all contests where he was eligible to vote, despite his “decline to state” status, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections.
Benioff and his wife, Lynne Benioff, have been major donors to the Democratic party in recent years, giving more than $90,000 to the Democratic National Committee between 2009 and 2010, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.
But Benioff has hardly been a Democratic stalwart.
In 2010, he gave $2400 to Carly Fiorina’s failed U.S. Senate bid. And he did not pony up for the Democrats in 2008, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.
And a few years ago, he was a major donor to Arnold Schwarzenegger, contributing $21,200 to Californians for Schwarzenegger in 2003, along with $15,000 to the Governor’s swearing-in committee, according to the Secretary of State’s web site. And in 2005, he donated $50,000 to “Governor Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team.”
At the dinner on Wednesday night, Silicon Valley executives and other wealthy Bay Area Democrats will reportedly pay $35,800 per plate to have dinner with the President. Some 30,800 will go to the Democratic National Committee, with the other $5,000 being split between the Obama campaign primary and the general election funds, Business Insider reported.
“If it weren’t for Silicon Valley and L.A. movie industry money, the Democrats could not get elected. Period. That’s where liberal wealth is,” said Tabb.