Poll: 87% of Americans Want a President Who Understands Science

blog-understand science-10.15.15In recent months, many prominent politicians have tried to avoid taking a stand on climate change by saying, “I’m not a scientist.” That may be true, but if they hope to win votes, they had better get a reasonable grasp of the science that affects public policy. A new survey conducted by Research! America and ScienceDebate.org found that 87 percent of Americans want Presidential and Congressional candidates to have a basic understanding of the research behind issues like climate change, public health, energy, and technology.
These findings crossed the political spectrum, with vast majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents saying they support a presidential debate on science topics and think journalists should ask candidates about their scientific views.
With science impacting every aspect of our lives, from jobs and economic growth to the air we breathe, claiming ignorance or refusing to acknowledge scientific consensus is just not acceptable. Voters are clamoring for policies “based on the best available science,” and facts aren’t partisan. Preparing for a serious debate on science would require presidential hopefuls to confront those facts. When and if they do, it will be interesting to see if their positions shift accordingly.

87% of Americans Say Candidates Should Have Basic Understanding of Science Informing Public Policy

An overwhelming majority of Americans (87%) say it is important that candidates for President and Congress have a basic understanding of the science informing public policy issues, including majorities across the political spectrum (92% of Democrats, 90% of Republicans and 79% of Independents). Americans also say the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key science-based challenges facing the United States, such as healthcare, climate change, energy, education, innovation and the economy, with 91% of Democrats, 88% of Republicans and 78% of Independents agreeing.
The public opinion poll of U.S. adults commissioned by Research!America and ScienceDebate.org and conducted by Zogby Analytics, found that less than half (45%) of Americans say they are well-informed about the positions of the current candidates for President about public policies and public funding for science and innovation (49% of Democrats, 48% of Republicans, and 37% of Independents), and 77% said that journalists should ask candidates about their views on scientific issues (82% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans and 72% of Independents).
“With Nobel prize announcements in the news this week, science is in the public consciousness but is it top of mind for the candidates?” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO Research!America. “This new poll shows how important science is to Americans and their quality of life. It is time for candidates to articulate their vision for maintaining America’s leadership in science.”
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