Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree is no weakness as he prepares for his presidential run, a pair of political science professors argue in Politico write up Wednesday.
Walker’s college record has made him an occasional punching bag as he gears up for the presidential run he’s expected to announce next week. Former Democratic National Committee head Howard Dean said it raises questions about whether Walker is “well-educated.” Major Hillary Clinton donor John Morgan was more blunt when he said electing Walker would be allowing a “dumb shit” to become president. (RELATED: Major Hillary Donor Calls Walker ‘A Dumb S***’ Over Lack Of College Degree)
Now, two very well-educated political scientists say these attacks are pure bunk.
“We recently completed the largest study to look directly at this question—does having a college degree matter for politicians?—and the answer is, we don’t think so,” say Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu, professors at Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, respectively.
According to the two’s research, there’s simply no evidence that the Wisconsin governor’s failure to complete his last few credits at Marquette is a red flag for high office.
“When we examined hard data on how politicians with and without college degrees actually perform in office, on average, we didn’t find any real differences between leaders who finished college and leaders who didn’t,” they write. When assessing the fates of countries from 1875 onwards and comparing those led by college-educated chief executives and those that were not, they found similar levels of economic growth, inflation, unemployment, wars, and labor strikes.
The two also conducted a study of a Brazilian local government, finding that corruption levels between different cities did not change based on whether mayors had college degrees.
“Even in the US Congress, a college diploma doesn’t seem to signify anything special,” they continue. “Throughout the 20th century, members of Congress who didn’t have college degrees introduced just as many successful bills as their colleagues who had college diplomas. They didn’t suffer with voters, either.”
The two theorize that the similar performance is because, whether they received a degree or not, politicians all share the similar trait of being leaders and “workaholics” willing and able to slog through the gauntlet of politics. Furthermore, like most Americans, politicians do their most important learning on the job, not in the classroom.
“By definition, they have more in common with a college dropout like Bill Gates than a typical college dropout,” they say. The two academics conclude by urging voters to view him not as a bumbling dropout, but as somebody like Mark Zuckerberg, Harry Truman, or Karl Rove, all high school grads.
“When voters hear that Scott Walker—or any politician—didn’t finish college, they probably shouldn’t make too much of it. They should listen to the person’s ideas, they should look at the person’s track record, but they shouldn’t get too hung up on the college part.”
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