Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Acceptance of Evolution Drops Among Republicans

The Pew Forum has released the results of a new poll that seem to indicate that acceptance of evolution has stayed relatively unchanged in most demographics since 2009.  Among Republicans, however, it has dropped.  They write:
About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”

These beliefs differ strongly by religious group. White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.

There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.
Other items of interest revealed in the poll:
  • It did not seem to matter whether or not the questions focused on humans or other animals in terms of acceptance of evolution
  • men accepted evolution more than women (65% to 55%)
  • College graduates had higher rates of acceptance than people with high school education or less (72% to 51%)
  • younger respondents had much higher rates of acceptance than retirement age people (68% to 49%)
It is not a surprise that Republicans are moving away from evolution.  The party as a whole has beeen pushing away from that position for years and most of the recent Republican presidential candidates had (usually uninformed) anti-evolutionary position.  Only Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney deviated from this view.  As the public schools continue to degrade and more conservatives tune out public education in favor of home schooling, the acceptance rate will continue to drop and I predict a greater partisan discrepancy three years from now. 


  1. Does this simply correlate with the drop in Republican identification among "moderates"?

  2. But the percentage of independents (and Democrats, for that matter) remains relatively unchanged, while the number for Republicans drops significantly. If the number of independents had risen ten or more points, then that might be an explanation. On a personal note, I now consider myself an independent simply because I have become so disgusted with the Republican position on evolution in specific and science in general.