Rember the recent opinion poll we wrote about a few weeks ago in Pew Research Poll on Evolution? They found that there were:
sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.
Bad news for the GOP. But what accounts for the sudden fourteen percentage point increase in Republican creationism? The poll also found that:
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.
If the percentage of creationists in the American population is unchanged, what’s going on with the Republicans? There’s an article about this at the website of Moyers & Company: The Growing Partisan Divide on Evolution. They refer to someone else’s analysis and then they say, with bold font added by us:
In short, Republicans who formerly believed in evolution aren’t being won over by creationists; rather, creationists are becoming more and more likely to identify as Republicans. It’s another aspect of the growing partisan divide in our country, with personal identity and belief-systems becoming increasingly intertwined with voting habits, and with religion becoming an increasingly important part of politics.
They’re on the right track, but there’s something else involved. We’ve been giving this some thought, and we found some additional information that sheds light on the situation. This appeared at the Gallup website a couple of days ago: Record-High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents. The paragraph that struck us was this:
Americans’ increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush’s troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans “shellacked” Democrats in the midterm elections.
Get that? Gallup finds that Republican party identification is down by nine percentage points. And the Pew poll found that there is a fourteen percentage point increase in Republican creationism. The numbers aren’t perfect, but we’re dealing with two different public opinion polls, so we’ll do the best we can.
Could it be this simple? If: (1) Creationists are staying in the Republican party, and if (2) Republicans who aren’t creationists are abandoning the party and becoming independents, then that can account for the Pew poll findings about the increasing percentage of Republican creationists. At this rate they’ll all be creationists before long, because everyone else will have bailed out.
We haven’t done a deep study of the numbers, but this is consistent with our own experience. Your humble Curmudgeon was prepared to re-register as an independent if the Republicans had nominated a creationist last time around, but instead they chose Romney. The next time they nominate a presidential candidate, with the party base more creationist than before, it’s likely that we too will join the exodus.
Anyway, no poll shows that creationism is increasing among Americans. That’s the good news. But creationists seem to be concentrated more and more in the Republican party. It’s a sad situation when one candidate’s creationism could become a big issue in a presidential election, but that seems to be where we’re headed, so whatcha gonna do?
Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.