In 1955, the Opinion Research Corporation ran a survey they called "Free Market versus Socialist Thinking," which was about basic economic issues. I've written about it before, but until recently I hadn't noticed that it included special samples of a number of occupations: Catholic clergy, Protestant clergy, college professors, high school teachers, business executives, other teachers, and manufacturing foremen. They didn't give any details on how those samples were selected, but for what it's worth, here is the distribution of party identification for each group:
Rep Dem Other/None
Catholic clergy* 13% 52% 35%
Protestant clergy* 36% 37% 27%
Professors 31% 47% 22%
HS Teachers 40% 49% 11%
Executives* 62% 22% 16%
Other teachers 38% 50% 12%
Foremen 31% 47% 21%
Public 37% 45% 18%
The differences from the general pubic are statistically significant for the three groups marked with asterisks.
Today, college professors are far to the left of the general public. I'm interested in figuring out how long this tendency has existed, so here are comparisons between the professor sample and the general sample on some other questions.
DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A GOOD THING FOR THE COUNTRY IF THE GOVERNMENT PUT A TOP LIMIT ON THE SALARY ANY MAN COULD MAKE?
Professors 9% 86%
Public 18% 78%
DO YOU THINK IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT TO SEE THAT EVERYONE WHO IS WILLING AND ABLE TO
WORK HAS A JOB?
Professors 43% 48%
Public 45% 48%
DO YOU THINK THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX SHOULD BE CHANGED TO
MAKE THE RATE STIFFER ON PEOPLE WITH BIG INCOMES, OR NOT
Stiffer Less As Is
Professors 23% 22% 48%
Public 43% 15% 36%
Professors were to the right of the general public on economic issues, although they may have been more likely to identify as Democrats. I suspect they were to left on "social issues" like opposition to McCarthyism and racial segregation, although the survey didn't contain any questions on them.
[Data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]