POLL DATA SUMMARY - VOLUME 21
Research!America annually publishes a summary of results from our most recent public opinion surveys.
Use this data in letters to the editor; op-eds; newspaper articles; letters to and visits with elected officials; speeches; talking points; congressional testimony; town hall meetings and debates; and policy statements.
To view a complete database of national public opinion surveys, click here.
MESSAGE FROM LEADERSHIP
This is an especially important time to gain insight into the public’s attitudes towards science and research. Public opinion surveys have long been a vital tool in informing Research!America’s mission to advocate for science, discovery, and innovation to achieve better health for all. With this 21st edition of our Poll Data Summary, filled with data surveyed during the first year of the pandemic, we believe more than ever that effective advocacy begins with understanding the public’s attitudes.
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public attitudes continues to evolve, a number of key findings have emerged. Seven in 10 Americans say the pandemic is a disruptive event, requiring the U.S. to assign a higher priority to science and technology overall. There is strong support for increasing the percentage of GDP spent on research. In addition, most Americans favor doubling federal spending on medical research, and a majority would be willing to pay more in taxes to support this research. Support for basic research is strong and growing. Across the political spectrum, there is widespread agreement for making faster medical progress an urgent priority.
We have all witnessed the unprecedented spread of misinformation and disinformation amid the pandemic, a phenomenon that has caused confusion and harm. Nonetheless, our surveys suggest that most Americans have confidence in science and nearly half say they have more trust in it than a year ago. At the same time, we must acknowledge that one in five say that they have less trust. Overall, confidence in doctors, nurses, scientists, and public health officials to act in the best interest of Americans remains high.
The pandemic has showcased what can be accomplished by government and industry stakeholders, and through public-private partnerships, when our nation’s research enterprise is called upon to respond. A strong majority of Americans recognize this reality and consider the role of both the private and public sector as equally essential in the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, support for STEM education has significantly increased. Yet many Americans are concerned about the lack of home internet access for children, with many agreeing that ensuring broadband access should be a priority. Public sentiment is clear: Research can deliver solutions that our nation, and the world, desperately need. Yet the rate of investment in medical and scientific progress is not keeping pace. Americans understand the significance of science and most trust the researchers and scientists at the helm. It’s time to take the lessons learned from the pandemic, along with these new cues from the public, and prioritize investments in science and technology for the good of all.