One of the speakers at this month's seminar sponsored by the American
Association for the Advancement of Science on the November election
was Kathleen Frankovic, who is the director of surveys for CBS News.
This unit designs and implements surveys for CBS News and the CBS News/New
York Times polls. Frankovic discussed pertinent survey results as they
related to several science issues.
Selections from her remarks follow. A webcast can be viewed at: http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/election/12012004.shtml
"I think it's very hard for most Americans to evaluate their need
for increased spending on science because it sort of comes in the context
of many other things for which there can be increased spending. There
will always be more support for spending on education in general . .
. when people think about their local schools. There will always be
more support for housing. There will always be more support for social
security, etc. So that in that context when it comes to dealing with
the voters and the public, it's a very hard sell."
"There is no survey poll question that I've seen that's been asked
in the last ten years on which you can get anything more than a small
minority saying that they are in favor of cloning. It doesn't matter
how you ask the question, it doesn't matter how you put it, the concept
of human cloning is truly anathema to lots of Americans. We don't even
have any recent data on it because we haven't asked it for a while,
because of the fact that it seems to be an issue on which voters have
made up their minds."
STEM CELL RESEARCH:
"On the subject of stem cell research, there is still a lot of
movement that's taking place. Obviously the California initiative passed,
it had broad support in the state, but after all this was California,
a Democratic state, and whose Republican governor came out in favor
of the initiative. So there was broad-based support that crossed party
lines on this. It's not necessarily the case that voters and the public
nationally are on the same page as the California Republican governor.
Half of the public will tell us that they approve of using stem cell
research. Two-thirds of that group would like to expand the number of
lines. But that's still only half of the public. There are huge chasms
based on education and religious intensity. The support increases with
education. Two-thirds of college graduates, as opposed to 24% of those
with less than a high school education. And that is also the case when
it comes to religious intensity. Not religious identification, but religious
intensity. Just 23% of those for whom religion is extremely important
would support use of stem cells for research, as opposed to 74% of those
whom religion is not important at all. It grows as one distances oneself
from religion. It is also politicized. Even in August, when we asked
this question, no more than just one-third of Republicans supported
stem cell research, compared to 57% of Democrats and 50% of independents."
"We just asked this two weeks ago, on one's belief when it comes
to evolution versus creationism. A three-part question that's been asked
off-and-on in slightly different formats by Gallup over the last couple
of decades, that asked respondents whether they believed that man was
created . . . as we sometimes put it, in a time frame on it in the last
10,000 years, created by God in current form. That there was a process
of evolution that was guided by God, or if there was a process of evolution
for which God had nothing to do with it. Those are the three themes
that are sort of developed by public opinion pollsters when they ask
about this. America on this question is fundamentally conservative.
55% say that God created humans in their present form. The Gallup question
which adds on within the last 10,000 years, gets a slightly lower number,
but it is very close to half. Just under half. This is something that
both majorities of Republicans and Democrats believe, and independents,
they believe, it too. This is something for which education and religion
matters: 75% of weekly church-goers, versus 35% of those who never attend,
say that God created man as humans as they are now. Education matters
as well. But, perhaps not so much as you would think, because well over
one-third of college graduates are also strict creationists. And even
32% who have post-graduate training. So this is a very intense belief