Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March 3, 2020, California Primary Election: Political Diversity At An Elite Institution

Stanford, among the nation’s premier universities, is home to several thousand faculty and staff who own or rent a campus residence, along with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students who live in student housing.

Stanford encompasses eleven precincts in Santa Clara County.  The County Registrar of Voters reports combine eleven precincts into two multi-precincts. 

Precinct 2542 consists of six smaller precincts:  four are exclusively faculty/staff, one is exclusively student, and the other is mixed.

Precinct 2543 consists of five smaller precincts.  Three are exclusively student, one largely student, and one mixed.

Most students are registered to vote in their home state, not on the basis of their student housing.  This explains the smaller number of student voters in the Stanford precincts compared with permanent faculty/staff.  About half of all faculty/staff lives in campus housing.  I assume campus residents have similar political views to those who live off campus in neighboring towns.

Here are the results:

Precinct 2542, largely faculty staff: Democrat candidates for president received 1,561 votes (96.2%), Republican candidates 58 votes (3.6%), and the candidates of four marginal parties 3 votes (0.2%)

Precinct 2543, largely students:  Democrat candidates for president received 818 votes (97.8%), Republican candidates 15 votes (1.9%), and the candidates of four marginal parties 3 votes (0.4%).

Stanford claims to believe in diversity of political views, along with diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, etc.  Not much political diversity in these voting patterns.

By way of comparison, in the general election of November 2016, Hillary Clinton received 90% of campus resident votes, Donald Trump 5%, and the four minor party candidates 5%. 

One further vote merits inclusion in this discussion.  On the ballot was a legislative referendum, Proposition 13, for a $15 billion bond issue to modernize and rehab schools from K-12 through universities, to be repaid over 35 years at an estimated $740 million/year ($11 billion in interest) from general revenues (taxes).

The measure lost statewide, 54% no to 46% yes.  Santa Clara county voted 50.7% yes to 49.3% no, just barely for the measure, about 5 percentage points above the statewide vote.

Stanford’s precincts 2542 and 2543 voted 83.3% and 86.9% yes respectively, 37-41 percentage points to the left of the California electorate in favor of new debt and higher taxes.  Stanford’s faculty, staff, and student body are not representative of voters in Santa Clara County (home of Silicon Valley) and the State of California overall.

This pattern typifies elite universities and leading liberal arts colleges in America.  Maybe this explains strong student support for Democrat Socialist Bernie Sanders.

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