Is MIT red or blue?

15 to 1 in donations for Obama

Have you ever wondered whether your professor leaned right or left politically? This election season, MIT faculty and staff have given more than $300,000 in direct financial contributions to the presidential campaigns since April 2011, according to public data provided by the Federal Election Commission.

Among the contributors to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign were 379 MIT employees, who donated a total of $283,370. That’s over 15 times more than the same total for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign — $18,357 — donated by 14 MIT employees.

Individual contributors typically donated multiple times over several months. The average MIT employee who donated to Obama donated on four separate occasions, for an average total of $739 per individual. The average amount given by individual Romney donors was higher, at $1,311. However, in both campaigns the smaller donations were more numerous — the median total individual contribution was $350 for Obama and $750 for Romney. Thirty-seven of the 379 people who gave to Obama donated less than $100 total.

These numbers do not include donations to political action committees, or PACs, which are independent organizations that support particular candidates. This election cycle marked the first time super PACs were allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money from donors who could effectively be kept anonymous, so it is possible that MIT faculty or staff made significant contributions that are not reflected here.

In 2008, MIT employees gave a total of $664,000 to Barack Obama and John McCain, a figure which includes contributions to PACs (before super PACs could raise unlimited sums). Obama raised $620,000 from MIT employees, 14 times more than given to McCain — a similar Democrat-Republican ratio to that of the current cycle.

Harvard employees donated $579,865 to Obama, not quite 10 times the amount they gave to Romney, $60,636, according to The Harvard Crimson. Obama and Romney are both Harvard alumni.

Obama’s campaign has raised $637.3 million for this election, compared to $388.1 million by Mitt Romney, according to The New York Times. But the major super PAC supporting Romney raised much more than a super PAC for Obama — $131.6 million to 63.7 million, respectively.

Ethan Solomon, John Hawkinson, and Joanna Kao contributed reporting.