POLL: Most Americans Thought Science Marchers Didn’t Help Their Cause

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Most American adults thought the “March for Science” protests organized in April didn’t help and may have even hurt activists’ goals of increasing federal funding for science and public concern over global warming.

Forty-four percent of Americans believe the protests “will make no difference and 7% believe the demonstrations will actually hurt the cause,” according to polling by the Pew Research Center released Thursday.

Tens of thousands of scientists and environmental activists held protests at cities all over the world on Earth Day, with a main protest occurring in Washington, D.C. Democratic lawmakers joined protesters in opposing budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration.

In its early stages, organizers characterized the event as pro-science rather than anti-trump, but the march took place on Earth Day and was backed by left-leaning environmental groups and Democrats.

Indeed, Pew found that while nearly half of Americans supported the science march, it was largely split along partisan lines.

“Support for the goals of the science marches is divided by political party,” Pew found. “Republicans and Republican leaners oppose the goals of the science marches by a 47%-25% margin; some 29% are undecided about their views.”

“Democrats and Democratic leaners support the goals of the marches by a 68%-14% margin, with 18% undecided,” according to Pew.

Americans were also split along party lines when asked whether or not the science march would “help the causes of scientists” — which included increased efforts to fight global warming

Pew found that “most Democrats and younger adults are convinced that these public events will help the causes of scientists” while “Republicans and older adults believe the marches will not raise public support for scientists, aid efforts to increase government funding of science, enhance the role of scientists in policy debates or lead to increased efforts to combat global climate change.”

But it’s hard for Americans to judge the effectiveness of a march that struggled with its own message.

The “March for Science” was plagued with problems at the top as organizers bickered over how to take on gender and racial diversity issues.

University of Maine biologist Jacquelyn Gill left the march’s organizing committee earlier this year over “leaders’ resistance to aggressively addressing inequalities — including race and gender,” STAT reported.

“We were really in this position where, because the march failed to actively address those structural inequalities within its own organization and then to effectively communicate those values outward, we carried those inequalities forward,” Gill told STAT. “Some of these problems stem from the march leadership failing early on in its messaging.”

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