What We Truly Believe

"The Harvard student body has always reflected elite opinion in the U.S., not the opinion of the general public," he says. "Back in the old days, the elite was solidly conservative."

The elite is now more liberal.

One presidential candidate, former Senator Bill Bradley, has draped his campaign in the language of the political left.

A majority of Harvard students polled chose Bradley for president. The next largest proportion had no opinion on the issue, and Vice President Al Gore '69 came in second.

Claudia Winkler, the managing editor of the influential conservative publication the Weekly Standard, says that though many students may hold what they consider to be strong political beliefs, these beliefs are not always concurrent with their proclaimed party alignment.


This, she says, is purely a function of the fact that students have not had the time or the education to form all of their beliefs concretely.

"The respondents in this survey are young, and some of their opinions are not completely formed and may even be contradictory," Winkler says. "That will change with the more that they study and learn about politics."

Despite the campus's proclivities for the left, most Harvard students say they don't think the campus is too liberal, which Ponnuru finds predictable.

"It's self-confirming in a way," he said. "Harvard students are a breed apart," he says with a hint of mockery.

That Old Time Religion?

Harvard students are more faithful than they once were.

Today, 52 percent of students polled described themselves as religious, and 60 percent agreed that God exists.

"I've been teaching at Harvard for 30 years, and the increase in the number of students who are religious is dramatic," said Harvey Cox, Thomas Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School.

. "When I first came here, [religion] was something you didn't speak of in polite company," he says.

But students are far less faithful than the population outside Harvard Yard.

Wuthnow, the Princeton social scientist, says that only 5 percent of the public say they don't believe in God, compared with 16 percent of non-believers at Harvard.

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