(Chicago) – Poll: The theory of evolution finds its grasp on Republicans to be shrinking.
According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, Republicans are less inclined than either Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved over time, a gap that has expanded in the last four years.
Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents (65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less than half of Republicans (43%).
The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009), while opinion among Democrats has grown from 64% in 2009 to 67% in 2013. Independents’ embrace of evolution – with 65% subscribing to the scientific view – has remained about the same.
Overall, the Pew poll found that six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”
The share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009, when Pew Research last asked the question.
About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”
The new Pew survey reinforces the growing popular perception of the Republican Party’s rejection of science on questions such as evolution and climate change, retreating to biblical explanations of biological and environmental phenomenon.
As a result, the credibility of the GOP as a serious, modern political party has been called into question by some of its own leaders.
In fact, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal thrashed fellow Republicans in January 2013 for being the party of “stupid.”
“We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults,” he said. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.”
And former Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour backed Jindal.
“Bobby Jindal was exactly right,” Barbour said.
But as GOP ranks in Congress swell with Tea Party adherents that reject not only scientific evidence but also expert economic analysis on issues such as the consequences of default on U.S. sovereign debt, the GOP brand will continue to suffer among an electorate unwilling to trust the party with its hands on levers of national power – or here in Illinois.
Unless the GOP evolves, it political ambitions may face extinction.
But with the likes of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) considered a “rising star” within the party, Republicans face a long slog back to modernity and the mainstream.
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