Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

New Study, Same Story


A new study suggests that American professors are very largely liberal, which is hardly news, but stands as a useful response to suggestions that this leaning was exaggerated. A study earlier this fall by two University of Akron professors suggesting that the professorial trend is toward moderation has been widely trumpeted as proof of right-wing overstatement and excess. That study, however, offered a rather feeble grounding, gauging only political self-description (very liberal, liberal, moderate) which, is, well, a rather subjective classification. The present study, by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, includes much more substantive data, and, again suggests that the professoriate is not only highly liberal, but thinks and votes that way. This survey asked about ideological self-description, but additionally posed questions about party identification, voting behavior, and sentiments on issues of the day.

This survey asked both for identifications as “liberal” or “conservative” along with party identifications. The labels were in close accord: 16% identified themselves as Republicans, 17% as conservatives; 46% identified themselves as Democrats, 48% as liberal.

Now, the categories of liberal and conservative are certainly distinct from Democrat and Republican, and voting in any one election is not precisely aligned either, but looking to 2004 election behavior suggests an even greater liberal inclination.

1% of self-identified Democrats and 1% of self-identified liberals voted for Bush in the Presidential election, while under 2% of each of these categories voted for Congressional Republicans. 13% percent of self-identified Republicans and 8% of self-identified conservatives voted for Kerry, while 8% of Republicans and 12% of conservatives voted for Democratic congressional candidates.

And what of the ballyhooed moderates of the Akron report? How did they vote here? 27% of independents voted for Bush; 66% for Kerry. 27% of self-described moderates voted for Bush; 68% for Kerry. 28% of independents voted for Republican congressional candidates; 66% for Democratic ones. 32% of moderates voted for Republican candidates; 66% for Democrats.

The survey additionally asked questions on issues of the day, with results that wouldn’t surprise anyone. Read the report.


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