Political Giving at Ivy League Schools · 25 July 2004


By David M, 07/16/04

I was wondering which candidates the faculty and staff at Ivy League schools were financially supporting. I found the money in politics databases at PoliticalMoneyLine's web site. The data include the Federal Election Commission's records of individuals who contribute over $200 to political campaigns, including in most cases the individuals' employers.

In my queries, I found 792 donations to the 2004 campaigns of Bush and Kerry from individuals employed by Ivy League schools. An astonishing 92% of those donations were to Kerry. Dartmouth had the highest percent for Kerry (97%) and Princeton the highest for Bush (16%). Harvard had more than double the total donations of any other school, while Brown and Dartmouth had the fewest total donations. Here are the results:


Brown: Kerry 24, Bush 3 (Kerry 89%)
Columbia: Kerry 118, Bush 18 (Kerry 87%)
Cornell: Kerry 76, Bush 6 (Kerry 93%)
Dartmouth: Kerry 30, Bush 1 (Kerry 97%)
Harvard: Kerry 280, Bush 17 (Kerry 94%)
Penn: Kerry 38, Bush 2 (Kerry 95%)
Princeton: Kerry 74, Bush 14 (Kerry 84%)
Yale: Kerry 85, Bush 6 (Kerry 93%)
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Total: Kerry 725, Bush 67 (Kerry 92%)
The data are imperfect as noted in the methodology section below. However, none of the imperfections seem likely to bias the data significantly in terms of what percentage of gifts went to which campaign.

Methodology and caveats:

I conducted the queries between noon and 2 pm EST, July 16, 2004 from the query page entitled, Find Individual Contributors By Employer/Occupation at the web site www.tray.com. All queries were for the 2004 election cycle only. (Note: the site appears to contain data from the 1980 election cycle onward.)

I defined contributions to the Kerry campaign as contributions to any organization with the word "Kerry" in the title (primarily John Kerry for President Inc and to a lesser extent Kerry Victory 2004). I defined contributions to the Bush campaign as contributions to any organizations with the word "Bush" in the title (primarily Bush-Cheney '04 Inc).

The queries were based on the first characters of the field, "employer/occupation." Some Ivy League employees were likely excluded from my results because they did not start the name of their "employer/occupation" with the name of the school. For example, if someone listed themselves as "Professor, Yale University" instead of "Yale University, Professor," they would not be included in these data.

Some campaign contributors may work for an organization with a name similar to an Ivy League school, in which case they may have been mistakenly included in these results (but in scanning the data, this was quite rare in the data I present).

In the cases of Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, I queried the common one-word name of the school. In the cases of Brown and Columbia, I queried "Brown U" and "Columbia U" respectively in order to avoid the multitude of other employers with similar names. In the case of Penn, I queried "University of Penn."

Some people may have given two or more contributions, in which case each contribution is counted separately in these results.

Some people did not have a listing for employer/occupation in the FEC data, in which case they are missing from my results.
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Note: This entry was inspired by M Petrelis's analysis of political giving at print media outlets, which had unfortunately predictable results.