Liberal college towns? Tell us something we don’t know


This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education offers more evidence to substantiate the assertion that big college towns are largely populated by liberals.  Not that we needed any.

Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, NC. (photo by Gene Galin)

Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, NC. (photo by Gene Galin)

In an analysis of last week’s election results., Chronicle editors write (subscription may be required):

…[C]ounties that are home to public flagship universities, only nine favored Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton, according to a Chronicle analysis of voting data. In the 49 counties included in the analysis, Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump, on average, by about 18 percentage points. In counties with a public flagship, the percentage of voters favoring Mrs. Clinton was 11 points, on average, higher than her statewide percentage.

Alaska was excluded from the analysis because it does not have county-level election data from the 2016 presidential election. Some states have more than one campus that serves a flagship role; to keep the analysis simple, we selected only one from each of the other 49 states.

Among the places with large disparities between the vote in counties with flagships and the rest of the state was the home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Orange County. There, Mrs. Clinton received 74 percent of the county-level vote, even though she lost the state overall, winning 46.7 percent of the vote.

And in some cases, while states may have swung toward the Republicans since the 2012 election, the counties with flagship universities swung the other direction. Mr. Trump improved on Mitt Romney’s Republican win in North Carolina, for instance, carrying the state by 3.8 points, compared to Mr. Romney’s 2.2-point victory. At the same time, Orange County voted even more solidly Democratic than it did four years earlier.

Shouldn’t our universities reflect our larger communities?  In North Carolina  — and elsewhere — that looks like that’s not the case.

So much for all that talk about diversity and inclusivity.