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."
"He's the only candidate who makes me feel like I did in the 1960s," he added.
University Director of Communications Lauren Robinson-Brown '85, who donated $250 to Obama's campaign, lived in the same dorm as Michelle Obama '85 for three years and ate dinner with her frequently. Though she and Michelle were not close friends, she said, they knew each other "very well."
But she added that her reasons for donating to Obama run deeper than a college friendship. "I do believe that he is a candidate of hope and vision, and I love that he's inspiring young people to engage in the political process," she said.
Wilson School Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter '80 and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Director Robert Goldston GS '77 both donated $2,300 — the maximum amount allowed by law during the primary season — to Clinton.
Curiously, Slaughter also donated $1,500 to Obama's campaign.
Schwartz said he was attracted to Richardson's record and background. "He had a lot of experience, he was from the West, and I did not want the nomination process to degenerate into who had the most money at the beginning, so I gave to an underdog, which I tend to do every four years and lose my money," Schwartz said.
He added that he had just thrown out an envelope with another check for Richardson that was waiting to be mailed. He isn't sure whom he'll support now.