Although Obama should count most faculty in his camp, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert in political communication at the University of Pennsylvania, cautions against painting professors with too broad a brush. Some colleges feature liberals and conservatives cheek by jowl; others, many of them religious schools, are staunchly conservative. Meantime, less is known about teachers at community colleges and technical and trade schools.
To presidential campaigns, students represent more than potential votes. They are young, energetic, and tech-savvy and often have free time, so many are recruited as foot soldiers. "Who else is going to put in 16-hour days for very low pay?" asks Dante Scala, a political scientist at the University of New Hampshire. He says his school on its own is unlikely to make a difference in his battleground state. But if the race remains close, and if one adds campuses such as Dartmouth College and Keene State College to the mix, then voting by the so-called academics could be critical to the outcome of the election in the Granite State and other contested states across the country.