ANALYSIS: Higher ed's impact on Mississippi runoff

Grace Gottschling
Investigative Reporter

  • With the Mississippi Senate runoff election underway, young voter turnout is expected to hold a lot of weight.
  • How are young voters, particularly those in college, likely to vote? The political donations of college employees could offer some insight.
  • Screengrab/YouTube: NBC News

    With the Mississippi runoff election underway, the young voter turnout is expected to hold a lot of weight. Senate candidates Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mark Epsy will likely need the young vote to secure the election on Tuesday.

    College faculty and administrators' influence on voting students may very well sway the election. Campus Reform analyses of several Mississippi colleges show that students are exposed to far more politically active, Democrat-supporting faculty and administrators than Republican supporting ones.

    [RELATED: EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Fla. midterm results in limbo, majority of UMiami admin., faculty donate to Dems]

    Ole Miss

    At the University of Mississippi, locally known as Ole Miss, 7.8 percent of donations were given by employees to Republican politicians or political organizations, while 92.2 percent donated to Democrats.

    While Republicans received higher value donations, only 15 Ole Miss employees donated, compared to the 177 employees who gave to Democrats.

    Seven Ole Miss faculty members donated $60,064 to Republican causes between Jan. 1, 2017 and Oct. 22, 2018, while 107 faculty members donated $48,799.77 to Democrat organizations and politicians.

    Only eleven Ole Miss administrators made political donations. No administrators donated to Republicans, but rather to Democrat organizations like Randy Wadkins’ congressional campaign, which Wadkins lost.

    Campus Reform analyses of several Mississippi colleges show that students are exposed to far more politically active, Democrat-supporting faculty and administrators than Republican supporting ones.   

    [RELATED: EXCLUSIVE REPORT: 98.4 percent of Mizzou admin, 97.6 percent of faculty donate to Dems]

    University of Southern Mississippi

    Republican Senatorial candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith attended the small public research university in the late 1970s before her time in politics. However, the current disparity amongst politically active university employees shows a strong lean against Republicanism. Only 0.8 percent of university faculty donated to Republican organizations while 99.2 percent of faculty gave to Democrats.

    In total, 94.4 percent of University of Southern Mississippi employee donations were given to Democrats or Democrat organizations, while just 5.6 percent of employees donated to Republicans.

    Campus student group, Southern Miss Common Cause, has recently condemned Hyde-Smith for several comments made on the campaign trail over the past several months. The group has called for Hyde-Smith’s resignation and informally banned her from campus, according to WDAM-TV.

    Hyde-Smith was reported to have made comments in favor of voter suppression by making it more difficult for college students to vote as they tend to be more liberal. Hyde-Smith’s campaign has since claimed the comment was a joke, according to Politico.

    Hyde-Smith also made a joke about being “on the first row” at a “public hanging” if a supporter invited her, The Hill reported. The comment has received criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

    [RELATED: EXCLUSIVE REPORT: 100 percent of Univ. of Oregon admin, 99.95 percent of faculty donate to Dems]

    Mississippi State

    Of the faculty at Mississippi State, 98.1 percent donated to Democrat organizations, like Act Blue and Swing Left, while only 1.9 percent of those who donated gave to Republican organizations.

    In total, 92.05 percent of Mississippi State employees, who donated politically, gave to Democrats while 7.95 gave to Republicans.

    For the purposes of this data, Campus Reform defined “faculty” as employees of the college that have direct instructional contact with students, such as professors, teachers, and instructors. “Administrators” were defined as employees who manage programming or are responsible for students and faculty, such as department chairs, deans, presidents, and provosts.

    Campus Reform sorted individual donors using their stated position at the college. For example, if the individual donor noted that they were a “professor of literary theory,” they were designated as a faculty member. If an individual noted that they were employed as an “executive director,” they were designated as an administrator. In the event an employee’s title was ambiguous and could not be confirmed, they were marked as general employees, but not sorted into faculty or administration categories. Campus Reform used a variation of keyword searches to cull data specific to the University of Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi, and Mississippi State University employees.

    Campus Reform used the most recent FEC donor records from Jan. 1, 2017 to Oct. 22, 2018.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Grace_Gotcha





    Grace Gottschling

    Grace Gottschling

    Investigative Reporter

    Grace Gottschling is the Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey and has experience traveling across the country to engage and train others in pro-life apologetics. Grace manages research and Freedom of Information Act records requests for Campus Reform.

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