Obama outweighs Romney in USF political donations
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:10
As candidates make their final campaign fundraising pushes, President Barack Obama has thus far proved to raise more money than his opponent, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney — a trend that is especially
pronounced among those who list the University as their place of employment.
While Romney received $3,878 from individual contributors at USF during the 2012 campaign season, Obama received $36,367, according to records from the Federal Election Commission. The number of Romney donors were outnumbered too — 10 donated to Romney, while 93 donated to Obama.
Ranging in increments from $10 to $2,500, donations to both candidates exceeded the amounts donated to each party’s candidates in 2008 from USF, when Obama raised $26,208 and U.S. Sen. John McCain raised $2,500.
But contributions may not necessarily translate into votes — the most recent Gallup poll shows Romney up by 5 percentage points at 51 percent of the vote, while Obama holds 46.
Even Ron Paul earned more than Romney’s campaign, grossing in $5,320 from USF supporters.
USF political science professor and political analyst Susan MacManus said the results weren’t too surprising.
“Academics lean heavily liberal,” she said. “And not just for Obama. It’s been like this for many election seasons.”
But Romney wasn’t the only Republican running for president who received donations — Rick Santorum received $100 from one donor, Newt Gingrich received $1,000 from another donor and Tim Pawlenty received $2000 from yet another donor.
MacManus said while most people donate to show support, others do it for less than noble reasons.
“People give for a lot of different reasons,” she said. “Some because they have the same party affiliations or are party loyalists. Some people give because someone’s asked them to. Some people, and not so much academics but more the really wealthy people, simply give to have photo ops with the candidates on their kitchen table. If USF students, faculty or staff are donating to Obama, chances are they like his education policy.”
Mark Walsh, associate director for governmental relations at USF, said state statutes prohibit USF as an institution from getting involved with political financing at federal and local campaigns.
“It’s very helpful to us because it sort of insulates us from the campaign — which can get kind of nasty,” he said. “We’re kind of shielded from that by not being allowed to participate.
It does in a sense present that challenge. People that are able to contribute can get an audience with members, and we have to be able to find a way to do that without being able to contribute.”
Walsh said he does not track individual donors at the University, both to federal and local campaigns.
“Our policy is, that we don’t, or we can’t really effectively, muzzle our employees from participating in the political process, whether with their finances or their time, as long as they’re not doing it as a component of their work here,” he said. “We don’t prevent that because it’s on their own time and it’s their money, but we don’t expect a benefit from that. Just because an employee, I would never as a representative of the university go and say ‘Oh, I want to remind you I’m a representative of someone who contributed.’”
But Walsh said in his experience, most politicians at the state level have been supportive of USF.
“In my experience, because universities, and specifically USF, is so beloved, they’re typically not in it for the financial gain,” he said. “They just want to help the institution and the community, because they know we help the community.”
To view a complete list of those who contributed, visit www.usforacle.com/news.