In January 2020, Research!America commissioned a survey seeking the opinions of Americans on federal support for current research efforts. When asked about the importance of elected officials at all levels listening to advice from scientists, a strong majority (90%) of respondents say that it is “somewhat important” or “very important”. These results are consistent with previous surveys asking the same question. In 2016, the last time this question was asked,
89% of respondents said it was “somewhat important” or “very important” for elected officials at all levels listening to advice from scientists with 58% saying “very important”, 4% more than in 2020, and 31% saying “somewhat important”, 5% less than in 2020.
First asked in 2011, responses to this question show that 87-90% say that, in thinking about threats to health, it is important that elected officials at all levels listen to advice from scientists. Though there have been slight shifts in those saying “very important” and “somewhat important”, support has remained consistently high.
On March 18, 2020, we commissioned a poll to view the opinions of 18-29-year-olds during the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked about the importance of elected officials listening to advice from scientists, 90% of respondents find it at least “somewhat important” that elected officials heed the advice of scientists with around 60% feeling that this is “very important” to address. This sentiment was consistent across the spectra of political, religious and education backgrounds. Interestingly, the amount of young Americans who have shifted their opinion to valuing scientific opinion as very important for informing elected officials has risen 13% from 47%, since asked in January 2020. The valuation of scientific opinion has shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Note the increase of 18-29-year-olds saying it is “very important”.
Since our founding more than 30 years ago, a key strategy tool in Research!America's advocacy for science and medical research has been influencing public opinion. As President Abraham Lincoln said, “…public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”