During the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats’ confidence in the scientific community has skyrocketed, while Republicans’ has plummeted, according to a recent analysis.
We might as well make “Trust the science” the Democratic Party’s official slogan.
Between 2018 and 2021, the number of Democrats who said they had a “great deal” of confidence in the scientific community spiked from 50% to 65%, FiveThirtyEight reported last month, citing the latest General Social Survey data.
Extreme polarization on “trust in science” is a recent and very troubling trend. pic.twitter.com/jgtYbiqVo7
— Alec Stapp (@AlecStapp) May 8, 2022
Over the same period, Republicans’ trust in science fell – albeit far less dramatically – from 39% to 32%.
- Partisan polarization around science predated COVID-19 but appears to have been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic.
- One explanation for the trend is demographic realignment between the two parties: college graduates have flocked to the Democratic Party in recent years, while Americans without degrees have gathered in the GOP.
- A recent study published in the American Political Science Review found Republicans are disproportionately skeptical of the scientific establishment. Meanwhile, Democrats are disproportionately represented in that same establishment.
Despite Democrats’ embrace of the “Trust the science” mantra, it’s not clear one party is more “scientific” than the other about the pandemic.
- A Morning Consult poll conducted in January found that vaccinated and boosted individuals were far more likely to be “very” worried about getting sick from COVID-19 than the unvaccinated, despite statistics showing they’re far less likely to have serious outcomes from getting coronavirus.
- “Democrats like to think of their political party as the one that respects science and evidence. And on several issues — vaccines, climate change, voter fraud, Barack Obama’s birthplace and more — that certainly seems to be the case. But just because something is usually true doesn’t mean it always is,” New York Times columnist David Leonhardt wrote in January in response to the poll.