Chart of the Day: Political Orientation Among College Freshmen

I don’t really have anything to say about this chart from the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute. I just ran across it by accident while I was looking for something else. As late as 1996, there were about equal numbers of liberals and conservatives among incoming university freshmen, but liberals have steadily made gains since then. It’s not that there are fewer conservatives, though. It’s because there are fewer freshmen in the squishy middle.

But wait. Just as I was writing that, I noticed something: during the last four recessions, the number of freshman identifying as liberal went down.¹ That’s actually kind of interesting, isn’t it? Their numbers recover over the next few years, and the secular trend has been rising ever since the early 80s, but there’s definitely a pattern to the hills and valleys.

¹Last five, actually, but I’m not counting 1973 since liberals were already in a post-60s swoon.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate