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Monday, August 1, 2011

Ivy League and Oval Office

Every president in the past 2o years has had at least one Ivy League degree:
  • George H.W. Bush, Yale
  • Bill Clinton, Yale Law
  • George W. Bush, Yale and Harvard Business
  • Barack Obama, Columbia and Harvard Law
In Republican nomination politics, however, Mitt Romney's law and business degrees from Harvard could be a drawback. The Deseret News reports:
"There is clearly an anti-elite element to the current Tea Party movement and a strong disdain for what they might characterize as intellectual elites which they associate with liberalism," said Mark J. Rozell professor of public policy at George Mason who has studied trends among the political and religious right in America. "That's a big part of their mantra — that powerful mainstream institutions, like the media and higher education, are hostile toward their brand of conservatism; it's a strongly and sincerely held belief among many conservatives and tea party activists."

"When you do polling you look at a number of factors and you try to understand what motivates people to vote a certain way," said Tim Chambless, a professor of political science with the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. "Ultimately, what we find is there is a bloc of voters ... who are suspicious of well-educated and wealthy candidates, especially those with inherited wealth and who are better educated than they are.”

"It's not so much whether they come from these backgrounds of education and wealth — it's more about how candidates present themselves to the populace," said Joseph Lowndes, an associate professor of political science from the University of Oregon, who has researched the Tea Party and modern conservatism.


Yet, if the economy is bad enough in 2012, Romney may not need to dispel perceptions of elitism, Chambless says.

"Romney's record of being a turnaround artist at Bain capital and a very successful businessman may create cognitive dissonance among voters if the economy is bad enough. Voters may say, 'Though I have these suspicions about Romney, the economy is so bad that I will vote for Mitt Romney because of his credentials as a turnaround artist despite these suspicions.' "