One possibility is that respondents who identified as Republican and believed in evolution in 2009 are no longer identifying as Republicans. Fewer scientists, for example, are reportedly identifying with the GOP, and the overall trend is for fewer Americans to call themselves Republicans. But both Gallup and separate polling from Pew found approximately the same party ID in 2009 and 2013.Given that people do not tend to change their religious perspectives based on who is in office, I do not think this is it, either. Something is being missed here. I think it is possible that the rise in Republicans who reject evolution is being influenced, at least in part, by the uptick in the number of self-described conservatives being home schooled. From an Education News story in March:
Another is that the rise of "intelligent design" education has helped to swing younger Americans against evolution. Yet the age breakdown remains similar in 2009 and 2013, with respondents ages 18 to 29 most likely to believe in evolution.
What does that leave? Maybe the gap represents an emotional response by Republicans to being out of power. Among others, Chris Mooney has argued that beliefs on politically contentious topics are often more rooted in opposition to perceived attacks than anything else—an instance of "motivated reasoning." Given that Democrats have controlled the White House and Senate since 2009, this could be backlash to the political climate, though it will be hard to tell until Republicans control Washington again.
More than 2 million children around the U.S. are homeschooled, a number that is 75% higher than it was in 1999. And the number is expected not just to grow, but to grow exponentially over the next decade — especially since the advent of free virtual public schools and quality curriculum all around the country.While the story is quick to point out that the parents of these children are increasingly choosing this route not just because of religious reasons, conservative Christians are still vastly the bulk of those being home schooling. I have found very few home school curricula that do not exude antipathy toward evolution. This has been the case for some time. Arguing against this perspective is the fact that a higher percentage of younger people accept evolution. However, we don't know about the educational breakdown, apart from "did you graduate from college or not?" How many of those evangelical protestants that reject evolution were home schooled? It would be nice to know. In any event, however, it can only be one factor of many due to the relatively small number of children involved. The reasons behind the drop in support are likely multifaceted.
BTW: there is one very unusual response collected by the poll that I missed the first time around. Among self-described mainline protestants that accept evolutionary theory, 36% think that evolution was guided by God and 36% think that God was not involved. If you are a self-described mainline protestant in the second batch, how does that work exactly? You believe in God but you don't think He has acted in the evolution of biodiversity on the planet? What does He do?