Randolph-Macon College Students Handicap Which of Their Professors Should Replace Eric Cantor 

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
June 11 2014 2:19 PM

Hot for Teacher

The candidates competing to fill Eric Cantor’s seat are professors at the same small college. What do their students say?   

Jack Trammell and Dave Brat.
Jack Trammell, left, and Dave Brat are professors at the same small college.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos courtesy of Dave Brat for Congress and Jack Trammell for Congress.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking loss to Tea Party favorite David Brat in Tuesday night’s Virginia Republican primary has thrown small Randolph-Macon College into the national spotlight. Both Brat and his Democratic opponent, Jack Trammell, are professors at the liberal arts school outside Ashland, Virginia. With both candidates relatively unknown, journalists are scrambling to know what to say about them. Fortunately, the students of Randolph-Macon have some opinions of their own.

Rate My Professors—a website where students can leave totally unbiased and reliable reviews of their teachers—has seen a sharp uptick in activity in the past 24 hours, as students jostle to share their classroom experiences with the two political contenders. Both Trammell and Brat’s Rate My Professors pages have three new reviews as of Wednesday morning, leaving Trammell with a sizeable margin over Brat in the overall ratings category: a 4.2 out of 5 over Brat’s 3.4.

Still, the race to win students’ admiration may be closer than the numbers suggest. Both Brat and Trammell appear to be generally well-liked and respected by students. Brat was memorably described as “unparalleled” and “almost too smart to teach.” Even when this economics professor is bad, Brat shows his political savvy, with one student saying that he is “so charming you forget to be mad at him.” Trammell also received some rave reviews, with one student calling the sociologist the “BEST PROFESSOR EVER!!!” and another proclaiming him to be “Brilliant.”

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Perhaps the most important Rate My Professors metric comes not from what students hear, but from what they see. I am of course referring to the hotness rating. Which of these scholars turns students on? Both, apparently. While “total eye-candy” Brat had the edge on Tuesday, with a glowing red chili pepper rating, as of Wednesday morning, he and Trammell are tied at a standard red chili pepper.

Whether or not either candidate gives us butterflies during office hours, one thing is certain: This congressional race is some hot stuff.

Hana Glasser is a Slate intern.

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