Political Candidates’ Ignorance of Science is a Turn-Off to Most U.S. Voters

Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R) brought snowball to Senate floor to disprove climate change (photo: C-SPAN)

“I’m not a scientist” is about as popular a response from a political candidate as “I am not a crook” with the vast majority of Americans.


An online survey of about a thousand Americans revealed 87% of respondents want candidates for federal office to possess a basic understanding of science as part of making public policy decisions.


The poll by Zogby Analytics, which was commissioned by Research!America and ScienceDebate.org, found 92% of Democrats, 90% of Republicans, and 79% of independents expressed support for politicians who know science.


“Evidence from science is the great equalizer in a democracy,” Shawn Otto, chair of ScienceDebate.org, said in a press release. “We are living in a new age when science affects every aspect of public policy, and voters want candidates to give science issues like climate change, healthcare, GMO foods, and jobs in the new tech economy a higher priority.”


ScienceDebate.org is even calling for the presidential candidates to participate in a science-themed debate before next year’s election. Polling results showed 91% of Democrats, 88% of Republicans, and 78% of independents want to see science-related issues during debates.


Most of the political references to science focus on climate change, which several conservative politicians either deny or refuse to address, saying they’re not scientists, ThinkProgress noted.


Even those candidates who should know better profess ignorance of science. “I’d leave it to the scientists to decide how much [human activity contributes to climate change], what it means, and what the consequences are,” Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who graduated from the Ivy League’s Brown University with a degree in biology, has said on the presidential campaign trail.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Nearly 90 Percent of Americans Think Political Candidates Should Understand Science (by Natasha Geiling, ThinkProgress)

Voters to Political Candidates: Know Your Science! (by Jeffrey Kluger, TIME)

87% of Americans Say Candidates Should Have Basic Understanding of Science Informing Public Policy (ScienceDebate.org)

Chevron Lobbyist Lands Job with House Science Committee (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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