Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Most studies of the subject have indicated that, indeed, upward of 90% of college professors at many universities hold liberal political views. In some schools and departments, faculties are virtually 100% left-wing. It is one thing to lament this ideological lopsidedness in the academy. But it is quite another to assume that professors actually bend the little minds in their care toward a liberal point of view, or even a radical one. Imagine a student with God-fearing Republican parents exposed to the depredations of an English professor aiming to use his class as a Bolshevik training camp. Will the professor succeed in turning the kid into a Red? The evidence says, probably not: When it comes to politics, people from conservative families follow their parents, not their professors.
The most recent evidence on this subject comes from the mid-1990s, in the University of Michigan's National Election Studies. These survey data uncover two facts. First, people who go to college are more likely to vote Republican than those who don't go to college. Adults 25 and under from Republican homes are, for example, 11 percentage points more likely to vote Republican if they attended college than if they didn't. And young adults from Democratic households are 11 percentage points less likely to vote Democrat if they've gone to college than if not.
Second, nearly everybody grows more likely to vote Republican as they age--but especially college graduates. It is no shock that the vast majority of people of all educational backgrounds from Republican homes vote Republican by age 40. It may come as more of a surprise that 40-year-olds with Democrat parents are far less likely to vote Democrat if they've gone to college than if they haven't. In fact, while three-quarters of the uneducated group still vote Democrat, the odds are only about 50-50 that the college graduates vote this way. And they've not all become skeptical political independents: Fully a third are registered Republicans.
In short, Brooks argues that income drives voting more than parentage or college experience. One can only hope...