Americans Split on Whether the U.S. will be Viewed as a Global Leader in Science and Innovation under President Trump

Survey Reveals Medical Research and Public Health Should be a Priority in the First 100 Days in the New Administration
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A new survey shows Americans are split on whether the U.S. will be seen as the global leader in science and innovation under President Donald Trump; 41% of Americans agree, 40% disagree and 19% are not sure. Those in agreement include a strong majority of Republicans (70%) compared to Independents (34%) and Democrats (19%), according to the survey commissioned by Research!America. When asked if great strides in science and innovation will continue while Donald Trump is President, opinions were also divided (46% agree, 33% disagree and 22% not sure), with more Republicans (74%) than Independents (44%) and Democrats (22%) agreeing.

In another key finding, a significant number of Americans (79%), including strong majorities across the political spectrum, agree that it is important for President Trump to assign a high priority to putting health research and innovation to work to assure continued medical progress (85% of Democrats, 79% of Republicans and 72% of Independents). Even more compelling, given calls for cuts in federal spending, more than half of respondents (52%) are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if certain that all of the money would be spent on additional medical research, including Democrats (60%), Republicans (47%) and Independents (47%).

In a separate question, more than half of Americans (54%) say strengthening our ability to fight public health threats and investing in medical research (50%) should be a priority for President Trump’s and Congress’ first 100 days in office, compared to other national issues including reducing health care costs (76%), growing jobs (73%), fighting terrorism (65%) and expanding access to health coverage (64%).

“It is noteworthy that respondents across party lines agree with putting research to work and paying more in taxes to support medical research; at the same time, it is not surprising that Republicans are significantly more confident in President Trump’s leadership,“ said Mary Woolley, Research!America president and CEO.

Aware that the new Administration and Congress are getting to work on setting the policy agenda, more than two-thirds of Americans (67%) say that public policies should be based on the best available science, with 61% saying it is important for Congress to provide tax incentives to the private sector to develop new medicines and medical technologies. In addition, a majority of Americans agree that scientists should play a major role in shaping policy over a wide range, including the environment (75%), education (58%), roads, bridges and other infrastructure (55%), national defense (51%), and at the highest percentage, for medical and health research (83%).

“Americans recognize that science is fundamental to so many priorities that matter,” added Woolley, who goes on to say that “nothing is more essential to securing a productive society than a high-functioning infrastructure that includes public health.” 

When it comes to the health topics, a majority of respondents say the federal government should play a role in ensuring that existing medical treatments are safe and effective (75%); identifying new ways to prevent illness and disabling conditions (63%); working to prevent and respond to global health threats like Ebola (60%); and ensuring that research is supported adequately to speed medical progress (60%).

Among other survey results:

  • More than half of Americans (54%) do not believe that the United States has the best health care system in the world.  
  • When asked if you believe health care services you personally receive are based on the best and more recent research available, opinions were split (yes 36%, no 38%, and not sure 26%).
  • 70% agree that the federal government should assign a higher priority to improving education focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and careers in those fields.
  • 73% say it is important to conduct research to eliminate health disparities.
  • 55% favor federal funding for medical research using embryonic stem cells.

The survey of 1,005 US adults, conducted by Zogby Analytics in January 2017, has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. To view survey results, click here.

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About Research!America Surveys

Research!America began commissioning surveys in 1992 in an effort to understand public support for medical, health and scientific research. The results of Research!America's surveys have proven invaluable to our alliance of member organizations and, in turn, to the fulfillment of our mission to make research to improve health a higher national priority. In response to growing usage and demand, Research!America has expanded its portfolio, which includes state, national and issue-specific surveys.  Survey data is available by request or at www.researchamerica.org

About Research!America

Research!America is the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations representing 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana