Study: Liberal Professors Outnumber Conservatives 12 to 1

“Well, I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of news here.”

Brace yourselves for the shocking conclusion of a new study published in Econ Journal Watch last month, which confirms that conservative professors are a tiny minority on campus. But as The Washington Times reports, the study also shows that the problem is getting worse.

The survey looked at faculty voter registration at 40 leading universities and found that, out of 7,243 professors, Democrats outnumber Republicans 3,623 to 314, or by a factor of 11.5 to 1.

Out of five departments analyzed by the study's authors, the field friendliest to conservative scholars is economics, where conservatives are outnumbered only 4.5 to 1. At the opposite end of the spectrum is history, where liberals outnumber conservatives by a 33.5-to-1 ratio. Contrast this with a 1968 study that put the Democrat-to-Republican disparity in history departments at 2.7 to 1. The Times notes that even reports from as recent as 2004 have estimated liberals outnumber conservatives in the field by a ratio between 9 to 1 and 15 to 1.

The authors of the analysis — Brooklyn College business professor Mitchell Langbert, private sector economist Anthony J. Quain and George Mason University economist Daniel B. Klein — speculate that the rapidly growing unevenness is due in part to the rise of academic subcategories, such as the histories of gender, race and class, where a liberal orientation is the foundation for subsequent research.

Kim R. Holmes, the author of The Closing of the Liberal Mind and a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the ascendance of multiculturalism in humanities departments makes it difficult for conservatives to find work teaching:

“If you’re going to have a Gender Studies Department, or something like that, the progressive assumptions are built into the very idea of the department, so you’re not going to hire any conservative professors. Because of this, the imbalance has proliferated.”

The Times has more:

The disparity is highest at the most prestigious universities, the study finds. Pennsylvania State University, for instance, has a comparatively balanced faculty ratio of 6 to 1, while Ohio State University enjoys even closer ideological parity at 3.2 to 1. But a pair of Ivy League universities, Columbia and Princeton, both weigh in at 30 to 1.

The university with the most even ratio examined in the report is Pepperdine University, which has a reputation for being a conservative school but still has 1.2 Democrats for every Republican on the faculty.

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The study also breaks down the ratio of Democratic-to-Republican faculty by age.

While there are 10 Democrats for every Republican among professors over the age of 65, the ratio balloons to 22.7 to 1 among scholars under the age of 36, indicating the ideological disparity could continue to grow as more senior professors are pushed out and replaced by a new generation of scholars.

“Well, I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of news here,” said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, about the study's results. Warren attempted to minimize concerns by claiming that small, faith-based colleges are just as likely to create campus echo chambers as their Ivy League counterparts.

“Both sides of the political spectrum have created departments that are hostile and antithetical to the other political view. I think it’s often missed that that happens at a number of campuses that are not listed here, which, by the way, is where the vast majority of students are. The students listed in this group are probably less than 5 percent of all the students in the country.”

Warren also this aspect of the report, saying liberals tend to become more conservative as they grow older. Furthermore, he said fields not examined in this report, including business, engineering and the natural sciences, tend to skew more conservative than the humanities and social sciences.

But Mr. Holmes pointed out that this severe imbalance is increasing intellectual homogeneity in academia does not bode well for the health of the American republic:

“If the culture at large neither cares about morality anymore and, on top of that, the education is being cheapened, it’s no longer about trying to teach people to think critically but about trying to indoctrinate them to a certain point of view. The American public over time is going to decline in the ability to be self-governing, and, ultimately, that’s a threat to democracy.”