At Harvard, Employees Lean Blue

In politics, money speaks, and with election day only a little more than a week away, many Harvard University employees have clearly stated which Harvard grad they would like to see in the White House for the next four years.

A vast majority of Harvard donors have cast their cash for President Barack H. Obama, who raised $579,865 through the end of September, dwarfing Republican Mitt Romney’s $60,636 total, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Both Obama and Romney spent formative years at Harvard, and maintain close contacts and friendships with professors here. Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991. Romney earned a joint J.D./M.B.A. from the Law and Business Schools in 1975.

The huge disparity in contributions between the two campaigns highlights the Democratic leanings of the faculty, whose members constitute the vast majority of employee donors.

Despite his cash advantage over Romney, Obama’s fundraising figures at Harvard have dropped significantly since 2008, as excitement about his candidacy has waned on campus and nationally. During that campaign, Harvard University employees were one of then-Senator Obama’s biggest donor groups, collectively raising close to $900,000.

Still, a group of professors, many of whom taught and became friends with Obama during his time here, have given to his campaign this time around.

University professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62 has given Obama $5,000, the maximum donation amount allowed for individuals. Tribe has called Obama, his one-time research assistant, the best student he has taught at the Law School.

Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., another of Obama’s former professors and a close friend, has also given the president the maximum allowed amount.

Romney has his own tight-knit group of Harvard supporters, many of whom are friends and have been advisers to his past presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Business School professors Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Porter both advised Romney in 2008. Though they are not serving the campaign in official capacity this time around, they have each donated $5,000 during the general election, as well as $2,500 during the GOP primary.

Though his Harvard fundraising total is lower overall, Romney’s average donation size of about $1000 is four times that of Obama.

University fundraising figures represent contributions made directly to presidential campaigns by individuals who reported working for Harvard. They do not account for donations made by employees to political action committees or other political organizations.

—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached  at


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