Wharton | Mr. Social Impact CPA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. RA For MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.80
Stanford GSB | Mr. Economics To Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.99
INSEAD | Mr. Tesla Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Financial Services
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. African Entrepreneur
GRE 317, GPA 2.6
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tesla Intern
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Looking To Learn
GMAT 760, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Mr. Infrastructure
GMAT 770, GPA 3.05
Chicago Booth | Mr. Asian Veteran
GRE 315, GPA 3.14
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
Harvard | Mr. Future Gates Foundation
GMAT 720, GPA 7.92
Harvard | Mr. Amazon Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. MBB Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
USC Marshall | Mr. Utilitarian Mobility
GMAT 740, GPA 2.67
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Second Chances
GRE 310, GPA 2.5
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Data Mastermind
GMAT N/A; will be taking in May, GPA 3.6
London Business School | Mr. Aussie Analyst
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Sustainable Real Estate
GRE SAT 1950 (90th Percentile), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Entrepreneurial Bassist
GMAT 740, GPA 3.61
Cornell Johnson | Mr. IT To IB
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
Harvard | Ms. Lucky Charm
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Ms. URM
GRE 325, GPA 3.6

Why Harvard MBAs Favor Obama

Mitt Romney may be a Harvard Business School alum whose most productive working years were spent at Bain & Co., one of the big time recruiters of Harvard MBAs. But Romney’s affiliation with the school apparently is giving him little advantage among current MBA candidates.

A survey of second-year students at Harvard Business School by The Harbus, the student newspaper, shows President Barack Obama beating Romney in a landslide: 57% of the respondents to the survey favor Obama, with only 34% in support of Romney, who graduated from Harvard with both law and business degrees in 1975.

The Harbus polled the students through its Class of 2013 Facebook group, calling the survey itself  “quick and dirty data,” not exactly the stuff of a Gallup or Rasmussen poll. Indeed, the newspaper didn’t even provide a response rate to its poll nor indicate how many of the school’s second-year students participated.

Still, the margin of preference by eligible voters at HBS is remarkably wide: Among current second-years at Harvard, Obama beats the HBS alum by a whopping 23 percentage points. Compare that to the meager three or four-point margin Obama currently enjoys in most polls of the overall public vote.


Why are Harvard MBAs so down on one of their own for President, especially an alum who had been a Baker Scholar, a distinction awarded to only the top students in every business class? By all accounts, Romney was the quintessential student, organizing an all-star study group of MBAs to prepare for Harvard’s case study classes. Former classmates have described him as precise, convincing and charismatic. Not surprisingly, Romney has had a distinguished career in business with one of the most loyal recruiters of Harvard talent over the years.

As Clark Peterson of The Harbus points out, “Romney appears to be the ideal of what 85% of HBS students want to be—in private equity. Seriously though, the guy founded Bain Capital. Made a fortune in business. Managed high-profile projects like the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Raised a large, successful family. And he gives back to the community. God may have put Romney on Earth just to make HBS students feel downright inferior. What gives?”

Of course, the last and only occupant of the White House with an MBA degree was George W. Bush, who was a year behind Romney at Harvard Business School and was famously pictured in the yearbook blowing a massive bubble of gum. Could the current crop of MBAs be judging Romney based on the performance of a previous HBS alum in the job?


Peterson, a second-year student himself who had been a legislative aide to conservative Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), doesn’t seem to think so. He believes that “Barack Obama is just a damn likable fellow, particularly to younger voters like HBS students. He seems to get it. He seems to speak the same language. There’s a cultural and generational affinity.”

Then, there is the Republican brand, as Peterson puts it. “The Republican brand is badly damaged among many voters whose preferences resemble our HBS sample: independent-minded, younger, upper-middle-class swing voters. To many of these voters, the GOP really puts the Old in Grand Old Party. It’s likely that this Party doesn’t like to party. And boy, the Republican Party is super white. There’s a cultural and generational gap.”

Indeed, the lopsided vote could be little more than a reflection of the wide diversity of HBS students today, particularly compared to the 1970s when Romney strolled the campus and every member of his study group was a white male. Some 39% of the second-year MBAs at Harvard today are women, while 23% are U.S. ethnic minorities and 34% are international, representing 68 countries. It’s truly a melting pot.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.