7C Employee Donations Lean Liberal

An exclusive TSL investigation of the donation history between January 2007 and December 2014 shows that employees of the Claremont University Consortium’s member schools donated a total of $176,400 to federal political causes and parties, with the majority going to Democratic causes. The data were retrieved from the list of donors who listed one of the 7Cs as their place of employment at the time of the donation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ database of federal campaign contributions at OpenSecrets.org.

These results fall in line with popular understandings of the political affiliations of academics, who are generally considered to lean left-of-center at universities nationwide. A University of California, Los Angeles study conducted during the 2013-14 academic year found that 70 percent of professors at private, secular four-year universities identified as “far left” or “liberal,” with 22 percent identifying as moderate.

At some of the Claremont Colleges, this ratio of liberal to conservative professors is even higher. A study that Claremont McKenna College government professor emeritus Ward Elliott published last September found that there were no registered Republicans among the faculty at Pomona College, Scripps College and Pitzer College. The Center for Responsive Politics’ database did show that one faculty member at Pomona and Scripps donated solely to Republican candidates in the last eight years.

The investigation, which is a follow-up to TSL’s previous study of the political donations of the Claremont Colleges’ trustees, found that 75 percent of the total sum of donations went to the Democratic Party or Democratic candidates, while Republican candidates received 24 percent and political action committees (PACs) with no political affiliation received the remainder. By contrast, 85 percent of the individual donors donated to liberal candidates and causes, while 15 percent donated to the GOP.

During the period studied for this investigation, no 7C employee donated to both Democratic and Republican causes, although some did donate to PACs with no clear partisan affiliation in addition to either Republican or Democratic causes.

The average Republican donor at the 7Cs donated $2,520 between 2007 and 2014, almost twice as much as the average Democratic donor, who donated $1,295.

Professors and staff in all disciplines donated more to Democrats than to the GOP, but the exact ratios varied among the fields. Administrators had the highest ratio of Republican donations to Democratic donationsroughly 47 to 53 percent. By contrast, no 5C faculty member in the humanities donated to Republican causes during the period observed, despite a total of nearly $46,000 in donations from professors in that field.

The social sciences were the most balanced academic discipline in terms of total cash towards each party, with a 60-40 split in favor of Democrats. STEM professors donated just $400 of almost $26,000 to GOP candidates.

CMC was the only school where the total sum of money donated by employees was larger for Republicans than Democrats. At Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer, not a single employee donated to Republicans. Scripps and Pomona only had one GOP donor each, while Claremont Graduate University (CGU) had two.

At just over $50,000, CMC employees donated the highest total amount of money, followed by employees of Scripps, Pomona, CGU, HMC, Pitzer and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI).

Of the 17 employees at the 7Cs who donated to Republican causes, 11 were employees of CMC. Even at CMC, the majority of donors were Democratic supporters; 44 percent of CMC’s employees were Republican donors.

Barack Obama received the largest cash amount of donations from faculty and staff donors at six of the 7Cs, and Obama received 39 percent of all 7C donations in the last eight years. The only school where Obama was not the receiver of the largest total amount of money was KGI, where Ron Paul received the largest amount of money. (A total of just three KGI employees donated to political causes in the last eight years, however.)

By comparison, Mitt Romney only received one donation of $1,000 across faculty and staff at all of the 7Cs during the 2012 election cycle, and John McCain only received two donations that also totaled $1,000 during his campaign.

Trustees at the Claremont Colleges, however, donated far more than did the schools’ employees. The total sum of donations from trustees at the undergraduate institutions was just under $2.5 million, over 16 times the total contributions from 5C faculty and staff and 14 times the 7C total.

The data included in this set is incomplete, as only donations of $200 or more to federal candidates are legally required to be made publicly available Federal Election Commission records. Any other donation is not part of the public record.

The database referenced in this article can be searched at OpenSecrets.org and downloaded here.