How important is it to have an academic education when it comes to jumping into politics? That’s one of the most frequently asked questions in family debates when it comes to choosing who to vote for — or at least it should be.
In American politics, particularly, the education gap has been identified as one of the most determining factors in the reshuffling of the various branches of government.
And if we learned anything from the Trump Era, the level of education is directly related to the political party of choice.
In the midterm elections, for example, exit polls found that 61% of white voters without a college education voted Republican, while only 45% of college-educated white voters did so. Meanwhile, 53% of college-educated white voters voted Democratic, compared to 37% of those without a degree.
That 2018 election was critical to the rudder redirection towards Joe Biden’s victory two years later.
Now, how important is it that our elected political representatives have a distinguished college education?
Figures from the Pew Research Center indicate that a clear majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe that American universities have a negative effect on the country. On the other hand, nearly three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say that institutions of higher learning have a positive effect.
This is directly related to an analysis by SoFlo Tutors, a platform that develops personalized strategies to facilitate college access through SAT/ACT tutoring, on the academic background of the 118th U.S. Senate.
SoFlo Tutors found that:
- There are eleven elected high-school / college drop-outs.
- Illinois has the most PhDs, followed by California.
- Thirty-eight representatives went to an in-state school (12 D, 26 R).
- Seventeen representatives are doctors (MD).
- Biden and Harris are the first President and Vice President combo in 36 years with no Ivy League credentials on their resumes.
The Platform also broke down the representation of universities in Congress:
- Harvard University: 16
- Stanford University: 15
- Georgetown University: 12
- University of California: 7
- Princeton: 7
Among the most common college majors in Congress are:
- Political Science: 15%.
- Law: 10%.
- Business Administration: 7%.
- History: 4%.
- Economics: 4%.
Similarly, forty-four members of Congress have STEM degrees.
Does education level in Senate really matter?
SoFlo’s figures speak to the other side of the so-called “degree gap,” which is not just evident in demographics on Election Day.
As author Adam Harris rightly explains in his column for The Atlantic, in that gap lies “a threat to higher education itself.”
Citing figures from the Pew Research Center, Harris concludes that if one of the major parties believes that higher education is an engine of liberal indoctrination and that party’s voters are increasingly likely not to have attended college, the political benefits of an anti-higher education stance are obvious.
This can impact budget decisions for public universities, state cutbacks, and thus increased tuition costs.