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US Direction

ZOGBY: Romney, Obama, and the Great 2012 High Tech Disconnect By John Zogby, Forbes Contributor

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I just released results of a JZ Analytics poll of 300 information technology professionals nationwide, commissioned by CompTIA, the DC-based IT advocacy/credentialing/membership organization. The results are fascinating and should be disturbing news for both presidential campaigns. There are issues on which there is strong agreement, even consensus, in the IT community. Two in three polled (64%) feel the US is at risk of losing its edge as a global leader in information technology. Even more, 68%, agree that the US losing this status as the global IT leader will have either a "very harmful" or "somewhat harmful" effect on prospects for future economic and job growth.

Understood and very serious. But this is where the agreement ends. Half (50%) favor some form of government involvement in promoting IT, but 38% do not. Almost one in three (31%) think that "providing tax incentives to keep IT businesses in the US" is the best role for government to play, exactly the same percentage that favors either "none" or is "not sure".

Well, it is an election year and certainly IT professionals can provide clear thoughts on presidential preferences since they know the industry is so critical to the economic health of the nation. Who would do a better job "advocating for rational and fair tax policies that promote innovation"? Their response: President Barack Obama 38%, former Governor Mitt Romney 25%. How about promoting "access to capital for SMBs to advance business startups and expansion"? This time: Obama 33%, Romney 30%. Or promoting policies that "allow for expansion of SMB technology exports to growing economies around the world"? Again, Obama 34%, Romney 27%. Promoting "STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education"? Obama 37%, 25%. How about creating "appropriate conditions to ensure privacy while advocating policies to expand broadband, computer and mobile applications"? Obama 32% to Romney's 25%.

In each case, President Obama outscores former Governor Romney. But in each case, 37% to 42% said either "neither" or "not sure". Reminder: these are IT professionals about IT policies.

I am a pollster but I am also a citizen. Here is my biggest fear - one of these two fine men wins in November and, again the leader of the opposition declares that his party's major goal is to ensure that the winner (or his party) does not win the next time and get another four years. The American people give no clear direction, the President of the United States can't give clear direction because 37%-42% are not sure or don't exactly know where they stand, and US leadership in the world hangs in the balance. I am less concerned about who wins as I am about who can govern.

The country needs leadership. But it also needs informed followership.

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