This story was written by Drew Harwell, Independent Florida Alligator
University of Florida students and faculty have given more than $15,000 so far to candidates for the 2008 presidential election, with about 70 percent of the funds going to Democrats.
According to public records filed with the Federal Election Commission, a total of 29 people who said they were UF students or employees have contributed to presidential candidates.
At UF, Democratic candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards have received about $5,000 each, while Republicans Ron Paul, John McCain and Mitt Romney have taken in between $1,000 and $1,500 each. related links
So far nationwide, Obama is the top earner among educators and students, pulling in about $2 million. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the next highest earner among students and teachers, has received about $1.6 million, while top Republican earner Romney has only received about half a million from the same group.
Michael Heaney, an assistant professor of political science at UF, suggested Obama's educational background has played a big role in making him a favorite among educators.
"He's a very bright guy, he's highly educated, he's an author of two books and he's a law professor," said Heaney, referencing Obama's tenure as a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School since 1993.
Nationwide, Democratic candidates have netted 71 percent of the money contributed by students and employees at America's colleges, the same percentage those Democrats received from UF students and employees. The statistics for other universities in the state, however, are different. Employees and students of Florida State University and the University of Miami have given more than 93 percent of their money to Democrats.
Though Obama earned the most money from UF employees, $5,222, Edwards motivated the most individuals around campus to donate. Eight of the 18 UF contributors to Democratic candidates gave to Edwards' campaign, including a $2,300 donation from Provost Janie Fouke.
Clinton, who has earned the most out of all candidates in contribution money from across the country - almost $91 million - has not been so favored in Gainesville. She has received only $500 from those at UF, $20 less than withdrawn Democratic candidate Bill Richardson.
Another outlier is the amount of campaign contributions for Republican candidate Ron Paul. He earned the most out of any Republican from UF students and faculty, despite only earning about 2 percent of total contributions nationwide.
Though Heaney was unsure how campaign funds would change the election, he said this race has amassed a high level of energy from voters.
"In general, there's a lot of enthusiasm across the board about this presidential race," he said, adding that this is the first election since 1952 in which no incumbent president or vice president has campaigned.
© 2008 Independent Florida Alligator via U-WIRE