Republican presidential hopefuls such as Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal have gone to great lengths to avoid endorsing evolutionary biology. Why is this?
Well a new poll out Tuesday by Public Policy Polling found that 49% of Republicans reject the theory of evolution. So perhaps those like Walker and Jindal are afraid to upset large numbers of potential supporters.
According to Talking Points Memo,
The poll by the Democratic-leaning firm found that 49 percent of Republicans said they do not believe in evolution while 37 percent said they do believe in evolution. Another 13 percent said they were not sure.
The question itself was worded very plainly, “Do you believe in evolution or not?”
Now of course this is one poll, and the polling company is clearly democratically biased, but it does say a lot about political tribalism.MSNBC’s Steve Benen pointed out,
It’s certainly possible that Republicans are, all of a sudden, turning against modern biology in greater numbers, but I think it’s more likely that in a time of stark polarization, partisans choose to stick to their “team.”
And he is probably not too far here, as Paul Krugman noticed a similar trend over a year ago,
The point … is that Republicans are being driven to identify in all ways with their tribe – and the tribal belief system is dominated by anti-science fundamentalists. For some time now it has been impossible to be a good Republicans while believing in the reality of climate change; now it’s impossible to be a good Republican while believing in evolution.
It is a a sad state of affairs when political alliances and tribalism drag down things such as education and scientific advancement and would do the Republican Party a great service if more politicians would come out as pro-science and stop denying undeniable evidence just to save face among constituents.