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Survey Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for Investing in Research

Americans weigh in before the President’s State of the Union address: “important for the U.S. to be a global leader in science and technology.”
According to data released today from a January 2023 survey commissioned by Research!America, Americans across the political spectrum agree R&D investment drives job creation, innovation, and global leadership. There is strong, bipartisan support for federal investment in our nation’s science and technology enterprise.
  • 91% of Americans agree it is important for the U.S. to be a global leader in science and technology.
  • More than 3 in 4 Americans (85% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans, 73% of independents) say R&D investment is creating employment opportunities for people in this country.
  • 63% of Americans are willing to pay $1 dollar more per week in taxes in support of medical and health research.

For more than 30 years, Research!America has commissioned public opinion surveys to help understand Americans’ views on medical, health, and scientific research and other pressing issues related to public health, research and innovation. As he delivers the State of the Union next week, we urge President Biden to put a spotlight on federal research investments as critical to the health and well-being of all Americans and as a driver of national security and prosperity.

“It is gratifying to see from our survey that public support for investing in research remains strong across party lines. Strengthening our nation’s science enterprise is a shared value for Americans,” said Mary Woolley, Research!America President and CEO. “Robust support for R&D is critical to ensuring America remains a global leader in science and technology, equipped to out-innovate current and future health and economic threats. It is incumbent on the science community to meet public expectations and be responsive to public concerns to find solutions to the challenges we face – both as individuals, and as a society.”

Americans want the U.S. to be a global leader in science and technology.

A slim majority of Americans (52%) believe the U.S. will be the world leader in science and technology in the year 2030. Notably, 77% of Americans are concerned that China will surpass the U.S. as the world’s leading S&T power. That concern is reflected by the 6 in 10 Americans who believe Congress should invest more taxpayer dollars to advance S&T in the U.S. Young people ages 18-24 are significantly less likely (74%) than all Americans (91%) to say it is important for the U.S. to be a global leader in science and technology.

Americans strongly support federal investment in research.

More than 8 in 10 Americans (92% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans, and 76% of independents) agree basic research which advances the frontiers of knowledge should be supported by the federal government; younger respondents (ages 18-24) are less likely to agree (74%). Federally-supported vaccine research is strongly supported regardless of party affiliation, with 9 in 10 Democrats and 7 in 10 Republicans and independents in support. In addition, 8 in 10 Americans support public funds for scientific research at universities.

Confidence in scientists has increased.

Confidence in health care providers and scientists is very high overall, with nurses (89%), doctors (87%), and scientists (78%) ranked as the three professions most trusted to act in peoples’ best interest – each up 8 to 10 points over 2022. However, while confidence in the military (85%), small business (80%), and police (70%) has remained steady, confidence in research institutions has dropped 9 points from 76% to 67% along with confidence in state governments (54%) and federal government (46%) each experiencing a drop.   

There is robust bipartisan agreement that scientists’ job should include communicating their research to the public (86% of Democrats, 77% of Republicans, and 77% of independents say “yes”). In addition, 95% of Democrats, 89% of Republicans, and 87% of independents say it is “very or somewhat important” for scientists to inform elected officials about their research and its impact on society.  

COVID-19 is no longer Americans’ top health concern.

The cost of health care (12%) was cited as the single most important health issue facing the nation, with COVID-19 (11%), cancer (11%) and mental health (10%) coming in close behind.  COVID-19 was far and away the leading issue (33%) on the same question in January 2022.

Other notable findings:

  • Americans are concerned about the impact of misinformation/disinformation on public health (88%), climate change (79%), and stable democracy (85%).
  • Nearly half (46%) of Americans say that opioid addiction has gotten worse in their community over the past 5 years. Respondents in rural areas are more likely (68%) to say “somewhat worse” or “a lot worse” than those in urban or suburban areas.
  •  Most Americans (82%) acknowledge the importance of funding the detection of infectious disease outbreaks on a global scale, and two-thirds (65%) agree the federal government should invest in preventing and curing diseases wherever they occur.
The online survey was conducted by Zogby Analytics on behalf of Research!America in January 2023, among 1,000 adults. The survey has a theoretical error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Contact Tim Haynes, Senior Director of Communications, at 571-482-2737 or thaynes@researchamerica.org with press inquiries. 


About Research!America

Research!America is a non-profit medical and health research advocacy alliance which advocates for science, discovery, and innovation to achieve better health for all. For 30 years, Research!America has been commissioning surveys to help understand public support for medical, health, and scientific research, among other state, national, and global issues related to public health and research and innovation. Visit www.researchamerica.org.