WASHINGTON- On the eve of the political conventions, nearly two-thirds of likely voters say the next president should announce initiatives promoting medical progress during his "first 100 days in office," according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America. And nearly three-quarters of those polled say it's important for candidates for the presidency and Congress to have a science advisor. The findings reveal deep concerns among voters about the lack of attention candidates and elected officials have assigned to research.
"Research and innovation, despite its contributions to the nation's health and the economy, has been given short-shrift by candidates this year - even as funding for research is at high risk in budget discussions," said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. "This is troubling given the fact that deep spending cuts for government supported research and failure to adopt policies promoting competitiveness could drastically slow the pace of discovery and development at a time when health threats are expanding in many communities."
Nearly 60 percent of likely voters say elected officials in Washington are not paying enough attention to combating the many deadly diseases that afflict Americans. An overwhelming majority of voters (90%) say it is important for candidates to address medical and health research this year. With concern about health care costs rising, 77% of likely voters say the federal government should fund research to make the health care system more efficient and effective. And despite the tough economy, more than half (53%) are willing to pay $1 per week more in taxes if they were certain that all of the money would be spent for additional research.
"Americans get the importance of medical research. Without a strong investment in research, we can't combat disease, we can't reduce exploding health care costs and we can't balance our budget," added Woolley.
Other poll highlights include:
- 68% believe the federal government should increase support for scientific research that advances the frontiers of knowledge and supports private sector innovation.
- 60% say medical progress will slip in the U.S. if another country takes the lead in science, technology and medical innovation.
- 66% say their quality of life has been improved by medical research over last decade.
- Only 15% know that medical research in the U.S. is conducted in every state.
"I'm struck by what I call border crossings in this poll," said John Zogby, Senior Adviser, JZ Analytics and Founder of the Zogby Poll. Overall, 61% of likely voters favor the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research including Democrats, Republicans, Independents and those who support the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. "What has been in the past two decades such a frenzied issue in defining the U.S. in a state of culture war has subsided into a near national consensus," he said.
Research!America's national voter education initiative Your Candidates-Your Health, invites candidates for the presidency and Congress to state their views on medical research and related issues. The brief questionnaire can be found at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.
The National Public Opinion Poll was conducted online in August 2012 by JZ Analytics for Research!America. The poll has a sample size of 1,052 likely U.S. voters with a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.1%. To view the poll, visit: www.researchamerica.org/nationalpoll2012
About us: Research!America is the nation's largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, Research!America is supported by member organizations that represent the voices of 125 million Americans. Visit www.researchamerica.org.