The study, conducted by Heterodox Academy Director of Research Sean Stevens and Brooklyn College Professor Mitchell Langbert and published by non-profit organization National Association of Scholars, showed that political contributions made by college faculty members were “almost exclusively to Democratic candidates and committees.”
Upon their analysis of Federal Elections Commission‘s voter registration and political donation data of some 12,300 college professors at universities in 31 states and the District of Columbia during the past two election cycles in 2015-16 and 2017-18, the two researchers found that professors donated to Democrats more than Republicans by a 95:1 ratio. Nearly half of those professors are registered Democrats, while only 5.7 percent are registered Republicans.
In terms of academic fields, the study found that economic professors have the lowest Democrat–Republican (D–R) donor ratio at 17:1. The three academic fields with the highest D–R donor ratio are English (244:1), Anthropology (214:1), and Psychology (184.1). Sociology professors, although having a high D–R registration ratio at 27:1, have a disproportionately low D–R donor ratio (31:1).
When it comes to gender differences, the D–R donation ratio for female professors (216.0:1) was considerably higher than the D–R donation ratio among male professors (67.5:1).
The two authors also highlighted a series of limitations in their research. For example, a good number of college professors are not registered as a member of either major political party. Many professors aren’t even registered to vote. Registration data is also unavailable for those who are not U.S. citizens, and those based in non–U.S. universities. More importantly, 20 states deny public access to the registration data or simply do not collect it at all.
The liberal-conservative gap in college professors suggested by Stevens and Langbert’s study echoes the results of a Harvard youth poll last year. The poll, conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, found that only 35 percent of Republicans between the ages of 18 and 29 felt comfortable sharing their political opinions with their college professors. By contrast, 54 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Independents reported they felt comfortable sharing political views with educators.
An earlier online poll conducted by College Pulse for a conservative campus-news website The College Fix yielded similar results. More than two-thirds of 1,000 Republican and Republican-leaning college students who took the survey reported that they had hidden their political views in the classroom, out of fear that expressing those views could negatively impact their grades.