Republicans' belief in evolution plummets, poll reveals

Fewer Republicans today than in 2009 believe in evolution, according to new analysis from the Pew Research Center.

A poll out Monday shows that less than half – 43 percent – of those who identify with the Republican Party say they believe humans have evolved over time, plunging from 54 percent four years ago. Forty-eight percent say they believe “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,” up from 39 percent in 2009.

At 67 percent and 65 percent, respectively, the numbers of Democrats and independents who believe in evolution have remained more or less the same since 2009. They’re also in step with the population nationally: Six-in-10 Americans say they believe humans have evolved. 
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CBS News / Pew Research Center
 The gaping partisan disparity remains, the analysis states, even when accounting for “differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment.” But the dip from 2009 is a telling indicator of the growing influence in the GOP of the oft-yoked tea party-type ideologues and the “religious right.”

According to the survey, a majority of white evangelical Protestants and half of black Protestants reject evolution. Overwhelming majorities of white Catholics and white mainline Protestants say they do believe in evolution, but among those half say a “Supreme being” guided it, rather than natural processes.

It’s a subject whose nuances saw some play in the 2012 presidential election. While former candidate Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, brushed off evolution as “a theory” with “some holes in it,” former Gov. Jon Huntsman, R-Utah, on the left side of the GOP field famously posted on Twitter: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon and the Republican Party’s ultimate nominee in 2012, has publicly stated his support for evolution – as guided by God.

“I’m not exactly sure what is meant by intelligent design,” he told the New York Times during his 2008 presidential bid. “But I believe God is intelligent and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body.”
  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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