Thursday, November 15, 2012

Education and the New Senate

I'm not sure I have a major point to make about this, but given that all our recent presidents and most of the losing nominees seem to have either Harvard or Yale on their resumes, and given the much-remarked dominance of the Supreme Court by a few elite law schools, I decided to take a quick look at the incoming class of Senators to see where they were educated.

And: nope, they aren't all from Ivy League schools.

There's only twelve of them -- nine lawyers -- so why don't I just list all their schools:

Half went to state schools: two to Missouri, and one each to the Universities of Hawaii, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Houston.

Two went to flagship religious-affiliated schools: BYU and Notre Dame.

Two to Ivies: one Princeton, one Dartmouth.

And two to small liberal arts colleges, Smith and Williams.

As far as law schools, we did get two from Harvard Law; the rest went to U Conn, Georgetown, Lewis and Clark, Wisconsin, Virginia, Washington and Lee, and Rutgers. That's not a bad group of schools, to be sure, but it's also not all Harvard and Yale.

Again, this is mostly sharing the data, not really making a point. Of course, it's not perfectly representative of the nation; to begin with, all twelve are college grads, and nine are lawyers. Nor are their undergraduate experiences even representative of all college graduates: it's certainly weighted on the elite side. Less so than the Supreme Court? Sure. Beyond that, I don't really have any additional comment. Just find this stuff interesting, so maybe others will too.


  1. The distribution is less interesting than the individual cases. Ted Cruz going to Princeton tells me something; one out of twelve does not.

    1. for everyone's information:

      Tammy Baldwin - Smith
      Ted Cruz - Princeton
      Joe Donnelly - Notre Dame
      Deb Fischer - Nebraska
      Jeff Flake - BYU
      Martin Heinrich - Missouri
      Heidi Heitkamp - North Dakota
      Mazie Hirono - Hawaii
      Tim Kaine - Missouri
      Angus King - Dartmouth
      Chris Murphy - Williams
      Elizabeth Warren - Houston

    2. Law School:

      Tammy Baldwin - Wisconsin
      Ted Cruz - Harvard
      Joe Donnelly - Washington & Lee
      Heidi Heitkamp - Lewis & Clark
      Mazie Hirono - Georgetown
      Tim Kaine - Harvard
      Angus King - Virginia
      Chris Murphy - Connecticut
      Elizabeth Warren - Rutgers

  2. Clicking around on the mosaic of all the new congresspeople I found that Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10) doesn't have a college degree. Then became curious and found that according to Wikipedia a surprisingly high 27 representatives and one senator (Begich - son of a congressman - what happened to him?) don't have college degrees. This PDF says it's 26 representatives with no college degree, plus an additional 7 with only an associate's degree.

    No specification as to which congresspeople they are. Are these elderly farmer types, or dynastic types, or what?

  3. Of course, Warren actually teaches at Harvard, while her law degree is from Rutgers.

  4. Nice! We elected another Eph!

    Go Purple Cows!

  5. How many of those politicians from non-elite schools were insurgent candidates (e.g. Tea Party or similar)?

    Idea follows from the rationale that the best pragmatic reason for an Ivy pedigree is the following: the built-in plausible deniability makes you very easy to hire (e.g. "How could we know Dubya would be such a complete dunce? He is a Harvard and Yale man, you know")

    That model assumes there are power-brokers involved with something to lose if a hire is a disaster. In the political arena, the power-broker might be the proverbial kingmaker who pays a price if a politician ends up a complete disaster.

    Would a rise in proportion of non-elite candidates be causally related to a receding in influence of kingmakers?

    1. Three Republicans. Fischer is sort of a semi-insurgent; she wasn't "establishment", but also wasn't really Tea Party. She's Nebraska. Flake is very conservative, but defeated a Tea Partier; he's BYU. The big Tea Party candidate was Cruz: Princeton/Harvard Law.

  6. I think our society would benefit significantly if the House and Senate contained a more diverse group of individuals (especially more people from the sciences and fewer from the legal profession).


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