Gates, director of a black studies institute at Harvard University, contributed $4,600 -- the maximum amount of money allowed under Federal Election Commission rules -- to Obama. He also gave then-Sen. Hillary Clinton $1,000.
Gates only focused his 2008 contributions on the presidential race. He did not donate to any other candidate -- Republican or Democrat -- running for office that cycle.
Gates' political contributions before the 2008 cycle have been sparing.
He gave Clinton $1,000 during her 2006 Senate re-election effort, but did not share his wealth with any other candidate. Until that contribution to Clinton, he had not made any donation since 1994. Altogether, Gates has donated $6,800 during the past two decades. None of his money has gone into Republican coffers.
Gates' Democratic leanings are typical of professors. Nearly three-quarters of the education industry's contributions during the past two decades have gone to Democrats, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.
Between 2007 and 2008, teachers, professors, and administrators donated a record-high $56.6 million to federal candidates and committees. More than 80 percent of that total went to Democrats.