Big Oil, Big Pharma, and...Big Academia?

When we think about special interests, we typically think about large corporations. Vocal critics of government like Michael Moore often discuss the amount of political financial contributions that come from pharmaceuticals, defense, and oil companies. But a comparable amount of special interest money comes from other, less-publicized sources . . . like collegiate academics.

For example, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that college professors and other individuals in the education field have donated more than $7 million to federal candidates, parties and committees so far during this election cycle-- more money than the oil industry, computer business, or pharmaceutical companies. And the giving has predictably been increasing since George W. Bush has been in office. In fact, education was the 8th largest industry in terms of all federal campaign contributions in 2004, when academia donated almost $30 million to unseat Bush and Republicans.

So if you believe you should "follow the money" when trying to predict the policies of candidates, it's safe to say that Democrats, who have received the lion's share of academic money this cycle (over 75%), will govern in line with the opinions of elite university academics if they win back the White House.