According to the polls, the two candidates are almost neck and neck. But among American Nobel laureates, Barack Obama appears to have won convincingly. Sixty-eight Nobel Prize winners in the sciences—including Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka, who won this year’s chemistry prize—have signed an open letter offering their support to Obama (D) over his Republican rival in the 2012 presidential election, Governor Mitt Romney.
“President Obama understands the key role science has played in building a prosperous America,” the laureates wrote in the letter, released this week (16 October). “[He] has championed investment in science and technology research that is the engine of our economy.”
By contrast, they wrote, the budget supported by Romney, “if implemented, would devastate a long tradition of support for public research and investment in science at a time when this country’s future depends, as never before, on innovation.” They also wrote that Romney has "taken positions that privilege ideology over clear scientific evidence on climate change."
One of the organizers of the letter was Martin Chalfie, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist at Columbia University in New York City, who signed a similar letter endorsing Obama in 2008. “That was actually the very first thing that I did as a Nobel laureate,” Chalfie told The New York Times. “Scientists should stand up and talk about what they feel is important for the country in terms of the long-term support [for] research.”
Brian Kobilka of Stanford University, California, also spoke to the NYT to explain why he signed the letter. “I feel the Obama administration has been doing a good job of supporting basic research given the constraints of the economy.”