They vote Democrat. No one saw that coming…
At least those in economics, history, journalism, law, and psychology, according to a 2016 study. The abstract reads,
We investigate the voter registration of faculty at 40 leading U.S. universities in the fields of Economics, History, Journalism/Communications, Law, and Psychology. We looked up 7,243 professors and found 3,623 to be registered Democratic and 314 Republican, for an overall D:R ratio of 11.5:1. The D:R ratios for the five fields were: Economics 4.5:1, History 33.5:1, Journalism/Communications 20.0:1, Law 8.6:1, and Psychology 17.4:1. The results indicate that D:R ratios have increased since 2004, and the age profile suggests that in the future they will be even higher. We provide a breakdown by department at each university. The data support the established finding that D:R ratios are highest at the apex of disciplinary pyramids, that is, at the most prestigious departments. We also examine how D:R ratios vary by gender and by region. People interested in ideological diversity or concerned about the errors of leftist outlooks—including students, parents, donors, and taxpayers—might find our results deeply troubling.
Of course, this is nothing new. For example, Jonathan Haidt and colleagues recently highlighted the lack of political diversity in academic psychology. What’s particularly interesting to me, however, is the D:R ratio in economics. I recall a Facebook discussion toward the end of last year in which this bias was downplayed and economic departments were more-or-less given as examples of conservative (read Republican) hubs on campus.1 I already knew this wasn’t true and said as much, but my comment was pretty much ignored. This exchange made me realize that many outsiders likely think mainstream economics is tainted by an American brand of conservatism.2 But more important, it made me realize that some (many?) on the left reject the findings of mainstream economics because they think it’s politically biased.
So, to those who think economic departments are full of conservatives: yes, these departments are more conservative than others. But the only way they could be labeled “conservative” is due to other departments being so far to the left. Basically, econ departments are more politically diverse. Nonetheless, they are still dominated by Democrats. While this may not instill confidence in my Republican friends, perhaps it will convert some of my Democrat ones.