2024 promises to be a historic year for elections as more voters will head to the polls than ever before, with at least 64 countries and the European Union holding national elections, representing around 49% of the global population.
In the U.S., the main focus is on the Presidential election, with former President Donald Trump set to square off against current President Joe Biden based on the primary voting that has occurred thus far.
While there are many issues that the U.S. faces, blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) have emerged as hot buttons, with politicians on both sides weighing in on the pros and cons of the nascent technology and digital fiat.
Kitco Crypto reached out to several experts to get their thoughts on how the 2024 election season will affect the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and much like the current political divide, respondents are divided on how much of a factor digital assets will play.
“This topic is not only timely but also resonates with a growing demographic of tech-savvy voters who are keenly interested in how digital currencies and blockchain technology are shaping our political and economic landscapes,” said Tayler McCracken editor-in-chief at Coin Bureau.
“The 2024 election season, both in the US and internationally, is set to have a profound impact on the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Younger voters, in particular, are showing a heightened interest in candidates' positions on emerging technologies, including AI and cryptocurrencies,” he noted. “This shift is significant, as it reflects a broader trend where digital assets are no longer fringe topics but central to political discourse.”
“Our analysis suggests that cryptocurrencies are turning many into single-issue voters,” McCracken said. “This is largely due to the perception of crypto as a symbol of freedom and sovereignty, especially against a backdrop of diminishing trust in traditional government institutions. In this context, digital assets like Bitcoin are increasingly viewed as safe havens, making their political relevance more pronounced than ever.”
He said the growing popularity of crypto could result in the stance of political candidates being a
decisive factor for many voters. “A government cohort positive towards crypto could lead to more favorable regulations, fostering innovation and adoption in the sector. On the flip side, a crypto-negative cohort might impose stringent regulations, potentially stifling growth and innovation.”
Looking ahead, McCracken said “The role of cryptocurrencies is expected to gain even greater prominence among voters and legislators. This is driven by the global adoption of digital currencies and the potential of blockchain technology to address critical issues like voter fraud and enhance transparency across various sectors.”
“The intersection of politics and cryptocurrency is a dynamic and evolving narrative that deserves in-depth coverage,” he said.
Jake Hunsbusher, a core contributor at Kinetic Market, told Kitco Crypto that “The 2024 U.S. presidential election has the trajectory to massively impact the further development of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”
“A large crypto-positive cohort in government will alleviate a lot of the regulatory uncertainty and create more defined regulatory boundaries that major crypto company leaders have been requesting from legislators,” he said. “It’ll also cultivate a more positive and transparent relationship between government bodies and crypto companies, eradicating long-standing tension between major executives working to create a stronger crypto ecosystem.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, “A large crypto-negative cohort in government will likely perpetuate fear of crypto in the U.S.,” he said. “The mass introduction of crypto into the day-to-day life of Americans can ignite feelings of uncertainty and unease, especially with major events of crypto fraud, as seen in the collapse of FTX.”
"Whether the 2024 presidential election fosters a larger crypto-positive or negative cohort, crypto will continue to advance and thrive nonetheless,” he concluded. “With events such as the major profit following the trading of Solana meme coins BONK and dogwifhat (WIF), to the 157% increase in Bitcoin following a bearish to bullish 2023, the major monetary gains of the crypto industry will gain more prominence and attention from legislators as the industry continues to grow and mature throughout the years."
Perhaps more than ever before, the gap between older and younger voting demographics could play a major role in this election season as technological advancements have greatly transformed the world over the past 30 years.
“Knowledge of technology like AI and crypto are important factors for younger voters when it comes to the candidate they will back, and there is a growing caucus of lawmakers pushing back against a digital dollar, showing the rising prominence of blockchain when it comes to voting,” said Kadan Stadelmann, CTO of Komodo. “How much of a role will crypto play in how voters vote?”
“With 21% of Americans owning digital assets in 2023 (and possibly much higher in the future), a candidate’s position on crypto policy will play a major role in upcoming elections,” he said. “That includes the 2024 U.S. Presidential Election. If a candidate is perceived as anti-crypto or pro-CBDC, it could negatively impact their chances of getting elected.”
Stadelmann said that a crypto-friendly government “could lead to mass adoption by both institutional investors and retail investors.”
“Crypto organizations and builders are more likely to dedicate capital resources, hire talent, and offer products in countries or regions with greater regulatory certainty,” he said. “In turn, this drives more technological innovation across the entire sector.”
In contrast, “A crypto-negative cohort in government could lead to crypto organizations moving their headquarters to other countries or regions that are crypto-positive or at least shifting their market strategy to other regions,” he warned.
Regardless of who wins the next election, Stadelmann said that “Crypto will continue to gain importance in politics.”
“Coinbase and Morning Consult published a survey in February 2023 that found 22% of respondents who held crypto considered themselves Independents,” he noted. “For candidates on either side of the political spectrum, holding a pro-crypto position could swing election results in their favor. This is especially true in close elections or places with a large percentage of Independents.”
Financial markets and regulation
“Cryptocurrency is undeniably playing an increasing role in how voters make their decisions,” said Slater Heil, co-founder and CEO of Blueberry Protocol.
“In general, voters lean towards candidates or policies that align with their wallets or financial interests – whether through donations or supporting candidates who favor policies beneficial to their asset holdings,” he said. “The crypto market's dynamics heavily influence these decisions, with holders often driven by market trends rather than strong ideological positions.”
“Most voters take a broader perspective on which issues will ultimately swing their vote,” he added. “Many other issues are taking precedence over crypto for most voters. The amount of single-issue voters who care a lot about crypto is probably below 1% of crypto users. It's probably not the most influential thing on the outcome of the 2024 presidential election.”
“Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, it's worth noting that the election itself could influence the crypto landscape,” he said. “Elections typically inject liquidity into markets, potentially driving crypto prices higher and elevating crypto-related issues in voters' minds. The presence of a crypto-positive or negative cohort in the government could significantly shape regulatory decisions over the next four years.”
“The impact on the regulatory landscape over the next four years would be considerable in the event of a government with a significant pro-crypto or anti-crypto stance,” Heil said.
“Having a crypto-friendly government would be highly beneficial for the industry, as it could lead to the formulation of more explicit regulatory guidelines for treating crypto assets,” he said. “Witnessing such a positive shift would be immensely welcomed.”
He noted that the crypto reception by the current administration has been negative, which has hampered the industry's growth.
“The Biden administration has not been favorable to crypto in the past four years. It has shown a tendency to be adversarial, even employing narratives and figures that may not align with the reality of the crypto sector,” he said. “The attempts to shape unfavorable crypto regulations based on such narratives have also proven ineffective.”
“In the worst-case scenario of a highly anti-crypto government being elected, the risk of sweeping regulations severely crippling the crypto industry seems less substantial than before,” he concluded. “Factors such as the approval of Bitcoin ETFs and the limited success of efforts to introduce negative regulations based on misleading narratives provide reassurance even in the face of less favorable political shifts.
Ryan Grace, Head of tastycrypto, agreed that cryptocurrencies will not be a major factor for most voters in the upcoming U.S. election.
“I don't necessarily think crypto is an election issue this cycle - not enough people own it yet, and no [leading] presidential candidate has really made it part of their campaign,” he said. “The industry has had some wins recently, so pro-crypto voters have less of an axe to grind. I think crypto this election is met with a general sense of apathy and it's not on voter's minds.”
Grace said that if there were a large crypto-positive cohort in the government, “we'd see more companies entering the industry and embracing blockchain technology. Generally, I believe a crypto-positive U.S. government would lead to more innovation, especially in areas outside of finance.”
He noted that while he doesn’t see a large negative crypto cohort in the government currently, “it's tough to argue today's regulatory environment and the US government's current approach to crypto is anything but negative.”
“I think any collective effort by the government to embrace the potential of the crypto industry and develop a sensible regulatory framework would be welcomed,” he said. “Crypto is going to continue to evolve regardless of the U.S. government.”
Evander Smart, founder of Bitcoin University, said that the resiliency of the crypto market and the recent launch of multiple spot BTC ETFs have shown governments that “more people than they realize either invest in Bitcoin, or are intending to do so, and this will only increase over time.”
“Donald Trump is already advertising and selling digital trading cards through crypto rails, and Vivek Ramaswamy has advised him to come out publicly against CBDCs,” he said. “If it wasn't a major issue for voters, Trump wouldn't have used it as a leverage play, on the campaign trail.”
“Once Bitcoin reaches a new all-time high later this year, and BlackRock and others begin mainstream advertising in earnest, Bitcoin will be one of the biggest financial talking points of the 2024 election,” he said.
And with Ramaswamy now coaching Trump on the ins and outs of blockchain, he could soon advance past being a “mild crypto investor,” Smart said. “To have a former, and maybe future, President be actively invested in the digital space cannot be a bad thing moving forward."
But according to Victoria Ustimenko, CEO at Pretobusiness.com, there are not likely to be any major changes when it comes to how the U.S. approaches crypto no matter who wins the Presidential election.
The fate of crypto in the U.S. “is more about the SEC lobbies than the U.S. government,” she said. “No matter who will be the President of the United States he or she should think about national interests and currency.”
“The digital U.S. Dollar, as digital hryvnia, ruble, peso, or any other currency, is still a national currency,” she added. “And of course, watching the UK's or China's political paths that promote blockchain startups in the country, the U.S. should lead the innovative path as well to save the place as the Olympia of innovators.”