Professors and administrators at the nation's top colleges are supporting Democratic candidates during the 2008 campaign at a rate higher than the historic averages.
More than 86 percent of Ivy League teachers and employees who have donated to presidential campaigns have given to a Democrat , according to an analysis of campaign finance reports. That percentage -- which does not include those who work in affiliated hospitals -- is more than 10 points higher than the education industry as a whole.
Of the roughly $470,000 donated by these Ivy League higher ups, approximately $205,000 has been given to Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, and $147,000 to Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY. The top Republican recipient was former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who received approximately $33,000 in Ivy League largesse.
"I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that professors are more liberal than most," Massie Ritsch,, communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Huffington Post. "This industry is as Democratic as the oil industry is Republican and I don't think the split in either end would surprise anyone. With professors, however, we assume that these are more ideologically driven than economic."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the education industry has become increasingly Democratic over the past twenty years. Whereas in 1990, 57 percent of the industry's donations - including Political Action Committee dollars - went to Democratic candidates, by 2006 that number had increased to 71 percent. The amount of money in play is also on the rise. In 1996 the total amount of contributions from academia was more than $8.8 million. By 2000, that had doubled and in 2004 it doubled again to more than $36 million.
In the current political atmosphere, some Ivy League institutions are leaning more left than others. Of the 11 donations made by teachers and employees of Brown University, only one went to a Republican candidate (Rudy Giuliani). The University of Pennsylvania appears to have the most balanced Ivy League faculty. Thirty-nine of the donations from that institution of higher learning went to Democratic candidates, 15 to Republicans.
Whether or not these donations have a bearing on the teacher's classroom decorum is a classic and long-standing political debate.
"I don't know how much this ideological persuasion translates into intellectual bias," said Ritsch. "I don't think these professors are skewing their teaching because they want to see a particular candidate in the White House. If this were the case we wouldn't have as many conservative college students as we do."