Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Study: Think Tank Employees Extremely Partisan

Tom VanAntwerp, the Director of Information Technology (IT) at the Tax Foundation, has just written a new piece about think tank employees and the various biases they have.  The conclusion: think tank employees are extremely partisan.  Here are some of the key conclusions:
  • Think tank employees are extremely partisan. According to OpenSecrets, only 0.4% of Americans gave $200+ to partisan causes in 2012. The proportion of a think tanks’ employees who give at that level ranged from 2.9% to 8.7%.
  • Think tank employees overwhelmingly give to Democratic causes. Nearly 78% of all political contributions from think tank employees went to Democrats. 208 think tank employees gave a total of  $452,589 to Democrats in 2012; only 82 employees gave a total of $112,653 to Republicans. Predictably, no one at Heritage or Cato gave to a Democrat and no one at CAP gave to a Republican. The only donation to a Libertarian was $250 from Cato’s former president Ed Crane to the Gary Johnson campaign.
  • The libertarian Cato Institute doesn’t give to Libertarians. There are two possible reasons for this. The first, and probably the one advanced by people who oppose Cato’s policy positions, is that Cato isn’t really libertarian at all. I do suspect that some employees at Cato really are conservative rather than libertarian. The second explanation, and the one I find more likely from personal experience with many employees of Cato, is that they have no faith in the Libertarian Party as a vehicle for policy change.

The raw data from this analysis can be found here.  And here is a chart of the percentage of employees at top ten think tanks giving to political groups during the 2012 election cycle and the partisan division of the total contributions.  Here is a chart of total contributions of top ten think tanks giving to political groups during the 2012 election cycle.

Here is a previous think tank funding piece by Mr. VanAntwerp.  And here is a previous Think Tank Watch post essentially saying the same thing as above: think tank employees tend to support Democrats.