When it comes to the “money primary,” Yale employees favor Democratic presidential candidates over their Republican rivals — by a margin of 45 to one.
Federal Election Commission filings from the first two quarters of the year show that University faculty and staff have given $44,500 to Democratic presidential candidates — most often to Sen. Barack Obama — and just $1,000 to Republicans.
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Obama has received $15,700 in contributions from Yale affiliates, while Sen. Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 has received $9,950 in donations so far. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut raised $9,300, while Republicans Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee attracted only one $500 donation each.
The total contributions to each candidate were calculated by reviewing records of all 2008 donations made by individuals who list Yale as their employer, as they are usually required to do by federal law. The findings are not scientific, as not all contributors list the specific names of their employers, and some Yale faculty hold primary occupations outside of the University.
Yale affiliates’ donations to 2008 candidates total just under $50,000 thus far, which is low compared to the total contributions from Harvard employees. In the second quarter alone, Harvard has given about as much to candidates as Yale has given since the start of the campaigning season. In total, Harvard affiliates have donated more than $190,000 to presidential candidates. Harvard employs around 15,000 faculty and staff, while Yale employs fewer than 12,000.
Although she is an alumna of the school, Clinton has received no contributions from Yale Law School faculty, who have made donations to Bill Richardson and Obama. At Harvard, where he got his law degree, Obama has raised more than $100,000.
Reached by phone, Yale Civil War and Reconstruction expert and history professor David Blight — who has made two donations of several hundred dollars each to Obama — said at first he was surprised that his donations were public. But he was not shy when explaining his support for the Illinois senator.
“I think Obama, given his background, given who he is, and given how eloquent he is, could begin to repair some of the damage done to the reputation of the United States all over the world,” said Blight, adding that Obama shares with Abraham Lincoln a “facility with language and music with words.”
“And I’ll be frank: He’s an African-American who has a real chance of winning,” he said.
Clinton’s contributions have come from two Yale psychology professors; a senior associate director of athletics; an art history professor; and Matthew Jacobson, the chair of the American Studies Department.
Charles Lockwood, the chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the only faculty member known to have contributed to Giuliani, joked that, “Most people in my department are slightly to the left of Joseph Stalin.”
As Giuliani tries to cajole the Republican base to vote for him despite his past support for abortion rights, Lockwood said that, ironically, part of what fueled his donation was Giuliani’s assistance in creating an abortion training program at Bellevue Hospital in New York while Giuliani was mayor and Lockwood was a leader at the hospital.
“He was very, very supportive of health care in general in the city and the medical school,” Lockwood said. “But most of it was living through 9/11, and it’s sort of like being in combat with somebody. When you’re right there — and we were right there at the time of the attack and the days that followed — he’s your general. You’ll follow him into hell pretty much.”
A representative from Giuliani’s campaign will be speaking to the Yale College Republicans tonight as part of an attempt by the group to reach out to all of the campaigns, while a Mitt Romney campaign representative is expected to attend the organization’s next meeting.
Alex Yergin ’07, the past president of the Yale College Republicans who is currently working for a Republican presidential campaign, said the findings are not necessarily reflective of political persuasions across the board because the majority of University employees have not yet contributed to any campaign. That said, Yergin was not surprised by the data.
“I did feel that probably more of my professors were on the left than on the right, but I did not feel that I was actively hurt as a student by being on the right,” he said.
Professor Charles Hill might be Yergin’s case in point. FEC filings do not indicate that he has donated to any presidential campaign, but this summer, he was named Giuliani’s chief foreign policy advisor. Asked by phone Sunday night why so few professors have contributed to Republicans so far, he said, “It’s too early to tell, so we’ll see what happens.”
No presidential candidates — including Dodd, who has offices just 45 minutes away in Hartford — have visited Yale so far this year. But Hill can recall when visiting Yale was a must for the most aggressive and intellectually stimulating campaigners. While in New Haven for the Yale-Brown football game in 1956, Hill remembers standing outside the Elizabethan Club and looking at a “vast crowd” blocking an entire intersection of Grove and College streets to listen to Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson, who was challenging President Dwight Eisenhower.
“There were a thousand or more Yalies out there, listening to Adlai Stevenson,” he said. “That doesn’t happen anymore, and I think that’s mainly because New England has become essentially a one-party region, so whatever happens [here] is kind of predictable. The Democrats don’t need to come here, and the Republicans don’t bother.”
In response to the lopsided campaign contributions, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey pointed out that the University does not make faculty hiring decisions based on ideological orientation.
“Yale hires faculty without asking them about their political views,” Salovey said. “It is always our goal to expose students to many different viewpoints on scientific, intellectual and contemporary issues [but] … we often don’t know a potential faculty member’s political viewpoints and we typically don’t solicit them.”
Overall FEC filings for the 2006 and 2008 cycles confirm the liberal tendencies of Yale affiliates, at least in terms of campaign contributions.
In the 2008 cycle, Yale affiliates have so far given about $120,000 to Democratic candidates and political action committees, and only $1,000 to Republicans. Throughout the 2006 cycle, Democratic causes — particularly the congressional campaign of Scott Kleeb GRD ’06 and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — received approximately $300,000, compared to less than $5,000 donated to Republican PACs and candidates.
Records of the next quarter’s contributions, which are due Sept. 30, will be made public Oct. 15.
—Jack Mirkinson contributed reporting.