Facts are stubborn things.
Conservatives have long accused certain organizations of being filled with politically and ideologically biased individuals. Accusations often fly that federal agencies, Hollywood, or elite universities are seething with liberal elites living in progressive wonderlands who believe their definition of "progress" is the only valid one, and that greedy, hateful conservatives are trying to oppress everyone but themselves. Bureaucrats, movie stars, and professors respond that they are the most open-minded and therefore that intellectual diversity is not even a problem in higher education and other areas. One professor from a top-five university debating a conservative friend of mine even stated that diversity of viewpoint and worldviews is not even needed at the top educational institutions in the world.
Most professors, however, will deny that there's a lack of diversity and claim that a wide range of political viewpoints is present at most of our educational institutions. Unfortunately for these professors, facts are indeed stubborn things.
Building off of this summer's revelation that government lawyers gave to the Obama campaign at rates of 95% and above, and amid ongoing lawsuits brought by conservative professors who have been discriminated against due to their viewpoint in states from coast to coast, the recent revelation of college professors' campaign contributions reveals they are possibly even more liberal than conservatives could have imagined.
Masha Shapiro at OpenSecrets.org breaks down the data aggregated by the Center for Responsive Politics, pointing out that professors at four-year institutions, medical schools, and law schools donated most overwhelmingly to Democrats in the 2012 election cycle. Not only have professors given to Democrats wholesale, but total contributions from the education sector have increased in recent years. Shapiro points out, "During the 2012 cycle, contributions from the sector totaled $64.7 million. That's a 323% increase over 2000, when the total was just $15.3 million."
Law school employees gave 87% of their political contributions to Democratic or liberal campaigns and committees in the 2012 elections. Medical school employees gave 81% of theirs to left-leaning causes. Additionally, 81% of contributions from those employed at four-year universities and even two-year community colleges went to Democrats or liberal campaigns and committees.
TOP RECIPIENTS FROM EDUCATION SECTOR, 2012 CYCLE
Candidate Total? Office Obama, Barack (D) $23,237,329 President Romney, Mitt (R ) $3,939,542 President Warren, Elizabeth (D-MA) $1,458,572 Senate Brown, Sherrod (D-OH) $576,240 Senate Kaine, Tim (D-VA) $521,607 Senate McCaskill, Claire (D-MO) $428,694 Senate Paul, Ron (R ) $421,701 President Foster, Bill (D-IL) $417,126 House Baldwin, Tammy (D-WI) $339,548 Senate Murphy, Christopher S (D-CT) $241,551 Senate
This chart depicts the 10 campaigns given the most money from the education sector. Only two Republicans are on the list, totaling just under $4.3 million. President Obama himself earned over $23.2 million. Former Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren's Senate campaign raised over 25% of what Mitt Romney's presidential campaign raised from the education sector. But let's look at the top university donors and what percentages they gave to each party.
TOP COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY DONORS, 2012 CYCLE
School Overall Total % to Dems % to Reps University of California $2,737,297 93% 7% Stanford University $2,317,180 67% 32% Harvard University $2,228,720 84% 16% Columbia University $1,092,640 91% 9% University of Texas $730,156 70% 30% University of Washington $674,261 97% 3% University of Michigan $664,665 85% 14% Massachusetts Institute of Technology $644,197 86% 14% University of Pennsylvania $641,716 89% 11% Georgetown University $633,590 60% 39%
Georgetown gets the closest to bipartisanship and even they don't give 40% to Republicans. Outside of Stanford's 32% given to Republicans, no other university even gives one-fifth to Republican campaigns and committees.
TOP LAW SCHOOL DONORS, 2012 CYCLE
School Overall Total % to Dems % to Reps Harvard University $217,569 99% 1% University of California $116,105 91% 9% New York University $99,671 89% 10% Fordham University $66,160 96% 4% University of Chicago $56,100 100% 0% George Washington University $48,475 78% 22% Stanford University $46,933 93% 7% Georgetown University Law Center $41,033 93% 7% John Marshall Law School $40,165 50% 50% Columbia University $37,425 87% 10%
Law schools truly are the most liberal. Our future legal scholars, attorneys, and litigators are subjected daily to liberal views on our Constitution and legal systems. As a third-year law student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, this is not a surprise to me. While some institutions such as The Federalist Society strive to bring intellectual diversity to law school environments, professors consistently state that diversity of viewpoints is not a problem. The data from political contributions seems to state otherwise.
So what is the big deal with all this data? Why does it matter? It reveals that there's a large degree of truth to conservative cries against the ivory tower's homogeneous echo chamber filled with liberal viewpoints. Our universities and professional schools hold themselves out as free marketplaces of ideas where the brightest minds of our next generation receive the mindsets and knowledge needed to solve society's problems better than previous generations. But political contributions show that the marketplace of ideas may not convey the true diversity of opinions that exist. Our next generation may be short-changed, as they are much more likely to be taught by those giving to Democrats and liberal causes than conservative causes. Should it really surprise us when our younger generation swings elections for liberal candidates when we realize who the super-majority of their teachers support? Should we be shocked when conservative professors are discriminated against and ostracized in university departments?
If conservatives and Republicans want to recapture political power, this data shows that we may need to gain greater influence in academia as part of our strategy to gain younger voters. But the numbers also show breaking into this liberal-filled world could be quite difficult.