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Likely voters say president's 'first 100 days in office' should include plans for research

WASHINGTONAugust 22, 2012 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. 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.
  • 61% favor expanding federal funding for research using embryonic stem cells.
  • Only 15% know that medical research in the U.S. is conducted in every state.

Contact: Glorymar Rivera

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