A while ago I wrote an item about how old professors are. This was probably not news to anybody, but I still enjoyed throwing it out there.
The comment related, however tenuously, to a broader point about the political inclinations of professors. The New York Times had just published an article discussing the average age of professors (50% over age 50) and the fading of 60s liberalism as these older professors began to retire.
The idea was that political polarization (read: liberal domination) at academic institutions would fade as younger, more moderate professors began to replace older professors hired during the 60s and 70s.
This made a lot of sense, but I’m not seeing much evidence of it. According to a survey conducted by the Huffington Post, reported by Paul Caron, and angrily analyzed by Stephen Bainbridge, over 95% of law professors who have donated to a current presidential candidate have donated to Barack Obama, while 5% have donated to John McCain.
Where’s the moderation? Is this that 60s liberalism still refusing to fade in the face of a wave of young moderation? Or is it true that, as Brian Leiter postulates, highly educated people are more apt to find or detect faults in “the current condition of the Republican party”?
It could be another case of people just supporting their own. For instance, before the legal community started throwing its money at Barack Obama, they threw their money at “darling of the legal community” John Edwards.
And it works for both parties. For instance, before they jumped on the wagon with John McCain, most McCain voters supported another war hero, Dwight D. Eisenhower... (Get it? Because they’re also really old...)
At any rate, I’m not sure this new data on political donations from law professors really jibes with the theories I discussed in my last post on this subject, but I guess sometimes change really is just a buzzword.