Evolution drives the deepest wedge between Republican and Democrats since 2005 says a new poll released Monday by PEW. In a survey of 1,983 American adults, 43% of self identified Republicans said they believed that humans and other animals evolved over time, while 67% of Democrats agreed. Meanwhile, 48% of Republican said they believed that humans and animals have all existed in their current states since the dawn of time, with 27% of Democrats agreeing. Even when compensating for other factors such as race and religious views, the numbers stayed very similar, highlighting political views as the greatest influence in what has classically been an issue of religion. The new information shows an increasing divide between the parties that spans more than just ideas on how the country should be run, and begs the question of what the result will be when political views are tied more closely together with religious beliefs.
PEW conducted similar surveys in 2005 and 2009, when there was a 13 and 10 point gap between Democrat and Republican opinion, respectively. The newest survey shows a 24 point gap, showing increasing polarization between the old rivals. Disregarding political views, roughly 60% of Americans agree with the Theory of Evolution, while about 30% say evolution is false. The Theory of Evolution was put forth by Charles Darwin in 1859, outlining observations he had made in several species of creatures that suggested they had evolved their features over several generations. By 1880 it was accepted in most scientific institutes, with creationism hanging on in the sidelines. The information gathered on how the idea is accepted today in modern America offer insight into the thought processes of the two largest political parties in the nation, offering clues to future actions and possible conflicts. That evolution drives the deepest wedge between Republicans and Democrats since 2005 is a shock to researchers, and most likely to any observers who feel there are more important things to debate.
The recent survey shows that debate around The Theory of Evolution drives the deepest wedge Between Republican and Democrats Since 2005, but the trend can be seen in other areas of opinion as well. Recently, Republicans on average have become significantly more conservative, and a marked increase in liberalism has been observed in Democrats. Researchers were careful to sample in such a way as to avoid letting religious viewpoints or individual races make up too large of a percentage of the total pool of interviewees. Factors such as age, education, religious involvement, and income were all questions in the survey, but despite filtering out all other possible reasons for the partisan gap it remained strong. The increasing connection between religious and political standings shows an interesting trend in America, a country that was started by settlers who specifically wanted to separate matters of church and state. In a country where everyone is free to believe what they want, it will be interesting to see how such varied beliefs, which normally clash only in church or the classroom, play out in the political arena.
By Daniel O’Brien