Chart of the Day: Are Democrats the Anti-Science Party?

By David A. Graham

From how to fund research to the clash of science and religion, neither Republicans nor Democrats fit into common assumptions.

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Click on the image for the full chart.

Quick: which party's voters have more faith in science? Surely it can't be the Republicans, given that a majority of GOP voters don't believe in evolution, reject scientific consensus on global warming, and oppose embryonic stem-cell research.

Guess again. According to data collected by Gallup, 88 percent of GOP voters believe science contributes positively to society, while only 83 percent of Democrats thought so (84 percent of independents agreed). What's more, six of out ten Democrats say their religious views conflict with science, while only half of Republicans said the same -- although it's true that if you reject theories like evolution outright, you eliminate the prospect of conflict. And the peak of government spending on science between 1995 and 2011? If you take out the one-time burst from the 2009 stimulus, the high point wasn't in the Obama or Clinton administrations but in 2004, under George W. Bush.

Some of the other findings are a bit more in line with what one might expect. Three quarters of liberal Democrats say government investment in scientific research is necessary, compared to only 44 percent of conservative Republicans; a majority of every other group, from moderate Republicans on left, supports government funding for research.

How much to spend is a different question. While about half of Republicans said science funding was just about right in both 2001 and 2009, the number who thought it should decrease doubled (it'd be interesting to see an updated result after two years of Tea Party presence and feverish talk about deficits and spending cuts). Meanwhile, the number of Democrats who want funding to increase has shot up.

Check out the whole chart at Visual News.

Image: Visual news

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/chart-of-the-day-are-democrats-the-anti-science-party/252429/