Everyone knows American college campuses are teeming with hippies, tree-huggers and Democrats. That’s a dog-bites-man story. But a look at presidential campaign contributions makes the politically lopsided culture of academia stand out in stark relief.
Individuals and political action committees affiliated with University of California system and Harvard University are collectively the highest and fourth-highest donors to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, respectively. That’s not just a ranking of colleges and universities. It’s a ranking of everyone.
The data come from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks campaign contributions.
Individuals and PACs affiliated with the University of California system have given the 2012 Obama campaign $927,568 thus far. The grand total from Harvard is $535,405.
By way of comparison, the number-two collective contributor to Obama’s campaign is Microsoft Corporation ($680,769) and right behind it is Google Inc. ($661,996). Microsoft and Google are, respectively, the publicly traded companies with the third- and fifth-highest market capitalizations in the United States.
It’s important to note that the schools themselves did not make these mammoth donations. Rather, the money came from professors, staff, and others associated with the schools.
Several institutions of higher learning gave the University of California and Harvard a run for their money in the race to fund the Obama campaign. Individuals and PACs from Stanford University rank seventh on the list of Obama’s biggest donors. Columbia University and the University of Chicago have to be especially disappointed, coming in just outside the top 10, at numbers 11 and 14.
Of the organizations that saw their individual employees and PACs donate to Mitt Romney’s campaign, the top six are all financial institutions. No organization in the top 20 is a university or educational entity.
Figures tabulated by the Center for Responsive Politics show a huge chasm between the amounts collectively donated to Obama and Romney at most colleges and universities for which it has collected data.
People and PACs associated with the University of North Carolina system, for example, have donated $151,760 to the Obama campaign and $1,750 to the Romney campaign. The spread is slightly smaller at Ohio State University: $58,579 for Obama and $17,750 for Romney.
Schools where the amounts given to Obama and Romney are roughly equal are hard to find, but they exist. For example, Texas A&M’s affiliated donors favor Obama over Romney, but just barely — by a $19,449 to $15,400 margin.
There are also colleges and universities where Romney has received enormous financial support, of course. Not too surprisingly, the Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University is among these rare birds. People and PACs at BYU have given Romney $59,109 and Obama a paltry $4,201.
The education industry is a high roller in American politics beyond the presidential race as well. During the 2012 election cycle, the industry as a whole has funded political candidates, political parties, and outside groups to the tune of more than $40.7 million.
A large majority of that cash went to individual Democratic politicians.
Individuals and PACs associated with the University of California system, for example, have shelled out $1,770,633 in political donations this election cycle. A whopping 94 percent of that total went to Democrats.
The story is the same in ivory towers across the country. At the University of Pennsylvania, individuals and PACs gvae 88 percent of their collective $472,008 to Democrats. At the University of Washington, Democrats got 98 percent of $440,559. Democrats collected 85 percent of the $395,198 contributed at the University of Michigan.