Here's five thougtful links about why - on average - professors hold the poltical views they do.
It all starts with an op-ed piece entitled "An Academic Question" in the New York Times by future Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman. He points out that:
...today's Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn't be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party.
I work with a lot of academics who take the idea of revelation through faith very seriously, and while I don't side with their religion, I can't see Krugman's claim as anything other than blinkered bigotry. Important blinkered bigotry though, because Krugman has the guts to say in print what a lot of academics use for an intellectual crutch to save themselves the trouble of engagement with the other side.
In a post entitled "A Kibbutz Hooked Up to an ATM" Andrew Samwick of Vox Baby argues that universities are socialist enterprises with enough free cash flow to wallpaper over the problem areas.
"The notion that this is a sensible way to organize one's professional life is bound to resonate more with people who have a soft spot for socialist, utopian ideals...
Take away that ATM, and I wager that a lot of the perks that make the quasi-socialist utopian enterprise so interesting to those who are left-of-center would disappear."
Then there is Arnold Kling writing at Tech Central Station that amongst a sample of his college buddies that politics a generation after graduation is correlated with time spent in the private sector:
Whittle's statement that "Freedom is the Platinum Visa card. We alllll want one. Responsibility is the credit rating. Not so much enthusiasm for the kind of discipline needed to earn one of those." To most of us, it is common sense that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. On the other hand, college professors, who enjoy so much autonomy with so little insecurity, can lose sight of the significance of responsibility.
Here he is again speculating on whether Larry Summers is the Martin Luther that academia may need:
The Catholic Church in 1500 was a debased, corrupt monopoly. It collected onerous taxes, which people paid because they believed that there was no alternative if they wanted a decent afterlife. However, inwardly people seethed at the amount that the clergy extracted and the debauched uses to which the funds were put. Colleges and universities are in a similar position today...
Lawrence Summers has rejected some of the sacraments of the academic clerisy. In particular, he has denied the doctrine of Righteous Victimhood...
The doctrine of Righteous Victimhood states that people who belong to certain victim classes are immune from challenge, particularly from someone who does not belong to such a class.
Rereading all of this I am reminded of my first multi-day trip back to the confines of a major research university since I gave up my tenure at one and left for a teaching school in 2000. The thing that struck me the most was that I had forgotten how full research universities are with long-named scattered offices overstaffed with administrative assistants and understaffed by academics carrying coffee mugs and newspapers.
This is all good stuff I got to via EconLog.