Coinbase legal chief Paul Grewal: Passionate crypto voters will sway elections

Coinbase legal chief Paul Grewal: Passionate crypto voters will sway elections
Coinbase chief legal officer Paul Grewal says the US's biggest exchange is courting crypto voters as an SEC lawsuit winds through the courts. Credit: Andrés Tapia

A version of this story appeared in our The Guidance newsletter on February 5. Sign up here.

In a year where the US is bitterly divided over the Middle East, abortion rights, and immigration, could crypto decide an election?

Coinbase’s chief legal officer Paul Grewal certainly thinks so.

The US’s biggest exchange is looking to mobilise what it says is a young and diverse bloc of 52 million crypto owners.

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“When you have such small differences between the vote count for one candidate and another, a few thousand passionate voters who say crypto matters to them can punch way above their weight,” Grewal told us on a call.

In the handful of states that will end up selecting the winners, “the margin separating one candidate or another is exceptionally small,” he said.

Coinbase has launched Stand With Crypto, a company-backed nonprofit aimed at influencing crypto voters in key states including Ohio and New Hampshire.

Members can sign up and donate money to lobbying efforts. Coinbase is one of crypto’s top spenders on The Hill.

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These people will “vote on crypto-based positions that politicians take, and they’re willing to make their voices heard,” Grewal said.

Crypto in the mainstream

Other crypto-backed researchers agree with Coinbase that crypto enthusiasts could be a significant voter bloc.

Independent research, however, suggests that swing state voters in 2024 are most likely focused on the rising cost of living above all else.

It does appear, though, that crypto is making its way into mainstream politics — despite its foibles.

As recently as the 2022 midterms, politicians on the campaign trail avoided mentioning crypto. Hardly surprising, given the high-profile collapse of FTX in November 2022.

That’s changing. Most notably with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who recently slammed the idea of a digital dollar as a “threat to freedom.”

‘Unimaginable’

For Grewal, it’s significant to see a presidential candidate taking a position on central bank digital currencies, which remain a fringe issue.

“That was unimaginable to me even just one cycle ago,” he said.

Grewal said politicians understand that small but passionate blocs of single-issue voters can be make-or-break.

“The fact that we are talking about CBDCs in the midst of all these other really hotly contested issues speaks to the fact that crypto is here to stay,” he said.

Look out for our longer interview with Grewal on DL News this week.

A version of this article appeared in The Guidance newsletter. Sign up here.

Reach out to Jo at joanna@dlnews.com and Adam at adam@dlnews.com.