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Princeton's One-Party State By: Michael Juel-Larsen and Josh Oppenheimer
DailyPrincetonian.com | Tuesday, January 29, 2008


All Princeton faculty members who have given to 2008 presidential candidates so far have donated to Democrats, according to federal records of donations to presidential campaigns from Princeton University employees.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is the runaway favorite candidate among those donors, having received $12,050 from Princeton employees. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) drew the second-highest total contributions from Princeton faculty and staff with $5,600. Other donations have gone to candidates including former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

In total, donors who listed the University as their employer have given $23,700 to presidential campaigns in the current election cycle. Of that, $21,900 — 92.4 percent — has gone toward Democratic candidates.

Federal Election Commission records list any donation over $200 to a political organization or candidate and are public by law.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the only Republican candidate to receive donations from Princeton employees so far, receiving a total of $1,800 from a graduate student and a Public Safety officer.

Princeton employees' overwhelmingly high support for Democratic candidates — 90 percent of donors who listed the University as their employer gave to a Democrat, and no professors donated to the GOP — outpaces its peers. The Harvard Crimson reported that 86 percent of Harvard professors' contributions went to Democrats, while according to Georgetown's student newspaper, The Hoya, 75 percent of the donations made by the school's employees went to Democratic candidates.

The statistics of political giving at Princeton mirror larger trends at campuses across the country. Inside Higher Education reported that Obama is the "clear favorite of academics," having received over $2.1 million from them.

Electrical engineering professor Stuart Schwartz, who has been on the faculty for 42 years and donated $400 to Richardson, said he doesn't think Princeton's numbers are representative of the faculty's usual political composition.

"I just think this is an unusual year," he said. "And maybe the Republican faculty are holding back and the Democrats are just so anxious to get their candidates in a good position. I don't think [the lack of support for Republican candidates] will hold up. That's not this faculty; there's a mix. I think the majority are Democrats, but I think there's a mix."

Other professors said that donations don't often come up in faculty conversations and aren't a source of tension among faculty members. "To be honest, I don't talk politics on campus," said physics professor Chiara Nappi, who gave $1,000 to Edwards last September. "I'm too busy doing my work."

College Republicans president Andrew Malcolm '09 said that the overwhelming support for Democratic candidates came as no surprise. He said there is no reason to believe that political donations will affect professors' teaching, but the leftward trend "does raise some concerns about ideological diversity among the faculty," he said. "I hope that all students, regardless of their political beliefs, feel comfortable expressing their views in the classroom."

'Putting my money where my hopes are'

Professors gave a range of reasons for their choices.

For Wilson School professor Stanley Katz, donating $250 to Obama's presidential primary campaign was a matter of "putting my money where my hopes are."

Michael Juel-Larsen and Josh Oppenheimer are Princetonian staff writers.


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