Neither Left-Behind nor Superstar: Ordinary Winners of Digitalization at the Ballot Box


The nascent literature on the political consequences of technological change studies either left behind voters or successful technology entrepreneurs ("superstars"). However, it neglects the large share of skilledworkers who benefit from limited but steady economic improvements in the knowledge economy. This paper studies how workplace digitalization affects political preferences among the entire active labor force by combining individual-level panel data from the United Kingdom with industry-level data on ICT capital stocks between 1997-2017. We first demonstrate that digitalization was economically beneficial for workers with middle and high levels of education. We then show that growth in digitalization increased support for the Conservative Party, the incumbent party, and voter turnout among beneficiaries of economic change. Our results hold in an instrumental variable analysis and multiple robustness checks. While digitalization undoubtedly produces losers (along with some superstars), ordinary winners of digitalization are an important stabilizing force content with the political status quo.