There was a BYU faculty member in my ward growing up that mentioned that he had to downplay his being a Democrat at work because, well, BYU.
I had no reason to doubt it at the time, but a few years later when I enrolled at BYU I came to the realization that by far the majority of faculty that had any discernible political preference were actually Democrats. I started rolling my eyes whenever I came across the narrative that Democrats there were an independent thinking, besieged minority on campus because, snicker snicker, BYU.
Now, I’m completely fine with a faculty member being a Democrat (or a Republican for that matter). BYU Democrats, for the purposes of this post, may be in the right. However, what they are not is unique or particularly edgy. Like a lot of us they are lemmings in their own way, and they don’t get renegade iconoclast points.
The FEC website allows people to search political donations to federal PACs by place of employment.
There are a lot of different PACs, and it would take way too much time for me to categorize even a sampling of them, so here I’m going to look at BYU employee contributions to ActBlue, an organization that facilitates small grassroots donations to Democrat causes and candidates. I will also look at WinRed, its analogue on the right for donations to Republican causes.
Over the past two years BYU employees made 789 contributions to ActBlue, and 252 donations to WinRed, or about 3.1x more to ActBlue.
As a point of comparison, University of Utah employees during this same time made 11,636 contributions to ActBlue, and 321 donations to WinRed, or 36x more.
However, a simple comparison undoubtedly hides a lot of x-factors. Maybe Democrats are just better at grassroots fundraising, maybe WinRed in general has less cachet because its been around for less time. When we look at all the donations during this time ActBlue does have an advantage (76.6 million vs 28.9 million), or about 2.7x more.
Therefore, it looks like BYU may be slightly more left than the US at large, in stark contrast to the U of U which is clearly much, much more left-leaning. However, BYU is much more representative of the US as a whole, so maybe BYU shouldn’t be known as a “conservative” place as much as a more ideologically diverse and representative place than universities in general, which tend to be political monocultures.