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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Public Wants Govt-Sponsored Scientific Research

Despite the best efforts of the Bush Administration, including relentless bashing of government investments in scientific research, they were never able to get a full-scale war against science off the ground. The primary reason for their failure appears to be that the public just doesn’t buy into the GOP meme that scientific investments are best left to the private sector, as indicated by recent opinion data. As TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira reports in his current ‘Public Opinion Snapshot’ at the Center for American Progress web pages,

The Obama administration has put a strong emphasis on scientific research, backed up by funding commitments in the 2010 budget. And this appears to be simpatico with the views of the American public. A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that the public, by 60-29, thinks government investment in research is essential for scientific progress, rather than believing that private investment can ensure scientific progress without government investment.

And breaking down scientific research into two basic components:

And when queried about whether government investments in basic scientific research—and in engineering and technology—pay off in the long run, the public overwhelmingly said yes in both instances: 73-18 for basic scientific research and 74-17 for engineering and technology.

It appears that the GOP war on government-sponsored scientific research is safely dead for the forseable future. As Teixeira concludes, “…The public is not only very supportive of scientific research, but is clearly willing to put its money where its mouth is. This supportive environment should allow scientific research in our country to flourish in the coming years.”

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