Find out what your candidates think of research
Research!America today launched the linkurl:2006 Your Candidates ? Your Health Voter Guide;http://www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org/ -- a site designed to help voters figure out how the candidates seeking their support feel about scientific research. The group sent 10 questions on subjects such as the CDC budget and basic science funding to all House and Senate candidates. To find out how they responded, plug in your zip code.
This is an important and timely effort, with the US midterm elections coming up on November 7. We?ll be looking at the Bush Administration?s record on science in our October issue, so check our homepage and your mailboxes in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, the response rate by candidates to the Research!America questions so far seems fairly low, a spot check of my home zip code (10036) and The Scientist?s zip code (19106) this morning revealed. In my home district, only Jerry Nadler, my incumbent US representative, who is running unopposed, had responded. Neither my incumbent senator, Hillary Clinton, nor any of her opponents, had done so. And no one had responded in 19106.
If I have a criticism of the questions, they seem quite leading. It?s quite clear how Research!America would like candidates to respond: More money for basic science research. Where they offer space for open-ended answers for plans to increase such funding, no candidates seem to have responded.
But none of that should stop you from visiting the site, checking if your candidates have responded, and contacting them to urge them to do so.
September 18, 2006
Our response rate to date on the Research!America - Lasker Foundation questionnaire is about 30% -- with more responses coming in daily. A number of candidates have indeed availed themselves of the "comment" section to make more nuanced responses to questions and offer additional information on their positions. \n\nMany of the same questions asked of candidates have been asked on national public opinion poll surveys by Research!America and others. It is interesting to compare candidates' views with those of the public. (Public opinion poll data is also available on the site.)\n\nI agree with those calling on members of the science community to check out the website and then urge their own candidates to respond, thanking those who already have. It's about time that research was a topic of discussion and debate in electoral campaigns.
September 27, 2006
I was disappointed that the questionnaire did not ask whether the candidate supports animal research. The candidate could claim strong support for funding, but still do substantial harm to medical progress by restricting vital modes of research.