Republicans' confidence in science has dropped significantly from 1975, poll finds

Science, welcome to 2021 — you've been politicized.

A new Gallup poll reveals that, in 2021, just 45 percent of Republicans report having a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in science, compared to 72 percent of Republicans in 1975. Democrats and independents have remained largely confident in science as an institution over the years, shifting from 67 percent to 79 percent, and 73 percent to 65 percent, respectively, between 1975 and 2021, per Gallup.

Gallup Poll.

(Image credit: Gallup.)

The current partisan gap regarding confidence in science (79 percent to 45 percent) is "among the largest Gallup measured" for any of the institutions in its annual Confidence in Institutions survey. It is "exceeded only by a 49-point party divide in ratings of the presidency and 45 points in ratings of the police," Gallup writes.

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Such distrust toward the scientific community can be felt in recent Republican attitudes toward mask mandates, the COVID-19 vaccine, and the seriousness of the pandemic as a whole, Gallup notes. Ironically, just 46 years ago, Republicans were actually more likely than Democrats to report a great deal of trust in science — but now, conservative thought and political leaders are seemingly pushing their caucus in the opposite direction.

Among all Americans, trust in science between 1975 and 2021 is down only 6 percentage points, from 70 percent to 64 percent, Gallup notes.

Gallup surveyed 1,381 adults from July 1-5, 2021. Results have a margin of error of three percentage points. See more results at Gallup.

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Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.