The Effects of Rideshare (Uber & Lyft) on Local Politics

We all know how the battle between Uber and Taxi services have affected nationwide elections. Uber drivers are voters too, and the Taxi drivers tend to forget that while they were commissioned in the past, and they do have clout, Uber drivers are not the enemy. Uber drivers are citizens that are seeking a way to earn an income, and if modern technology empowers car owners to drive and earn, and the regulators allow this too, then they will drive for a living.


This was felt in the community of Portland, Oregon, where the previous Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick allowed Uber and Lyft to work in Portland. In the elections of November 20176, both were replaced, and the current incumbents Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly have less faith in a rideshare. This see-saw of political persuasion is well known to many industries that rely on city regulators to make their lives easy or hard.

However, now Uber and Lyft have experience, and their drivers are also experienced, and while they are not unionized, they can definitely be mobilized as a pressure group. Local politics is all about local money, which means that it is important for residents to vote for incumbents that will support their means of income and maintain, if not increase their accessibility to income.

Portland city commissioner Nick Fish is now up for re-election, and the rideshare companies have not sat idly by the side. They commissioned a poll to see what the residents of Portland want, and the poll targeted 253 Portland voters, with a 6.2% margin for error, came up with a 59% preference for rideshare amongst voters. The poll also showed that 49% would not vote for a candidate that would force rideshare out of Portland, while 40% didn't really know how the decision would affect them.

My Take

59% is more important than realized, it means that 59% of the residents (in a survey) want to rideshare, and don't want the politicians to make it harder for rideshare companies to operate in the city. It also means that 59% (of which I am sure at least one is an Uber or Lyft driver) understand the importance of a free choice transport service solution, not limiting the population to taxis' buses and other modes of transport.

Another interesting fact is that Uber and Lyft have dominated the Portland transportation system since 2015, where taxi companies have been closing down. Politicians realize that by making life hard for Uber and Lyft, they are invariably assuring they don't get re-elected.

Politics and money always got together. However, with rideshare, Uber and Lyft do have an advantage now, and can affect political elections if they want to. They can use their vast army of drivers and in some instance customers too, in direct advertising campaigns as well as asking for localized help that will assure Uber dominance over taxi’s and other services.
Of course, once Uber replaces all of us with “I Robot” then they will have an issue with elections, since AV’s don’t vote. But heck, by then they will be so rich they wouldn’t care.

Lets gang up and all vote together…naah it wont happen, drivers are people, and people are different, and when it comes to racial, cultural, sexual and economical reasons, drivers will not vote the same way.