Jan 11, 2024 - Business

Harvard's reputation gap

Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Axios Visuals

How one views academia is increasingly becoming a red or blue litmus test.

Why it matters: Harvard's reputation started to nose dive following former university president Claudine Gay's reaction to the Israel-Hamas war, her congressional testimony and the public relations crisis that has since ensued.

  • Zoom in: In a recent Morning Consult poll, the school's net favorability rating reached its peak in June at 36% but has since dropped 15 points across all U.S. adults, regardless of party affiliation.

What they're saying: "One of the reasons that we've seen [Harvard's] metrics move so dramatically is because of the constant drumbeat of media coverage and headlines," says Joanna Piacenza, Morning Consult's head of industry analysis.

  • Plus, the blast radius of bad press received by Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania has negatively impacted the way Republican voters view Ivy League schools as a whole, per Morning Consult data shared with Axios.

The bottom line: Americans' confidence in higher education has been on shaky ground and the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision along with university leaders' responses to the Middle Eastern conflict has accelerated the decline, says Piacenza.

Methodology: Morning Consult poll results are based on daily surveys conducted between Jan. 1, 2023, and Jan. 6, 2024, among an average sample of 16,997 respondents with an approximate margin of error of plus or minus 0.75 percentage points.

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