Scott Walker knows darn well that the “Theory” of Evolution is about as solid as scientific theories get. The European reporters who asked the question of him last week were just indulging themselves in a bit of progressive humor, knowing full well that Walker would never give them a definitive answer.
And the reason he can’t is because he’s running for President, which, despite what you might hear in various enclaves in The City Of The Perpetually Offended (Madison), is his right to do.
And because he’s running as a Republican, he knows he can’t answer the question because he doesn’t dare “take a position” on anything that has to do with science, because no matter which position he might take on a question of science, some Republican voter will be ticked off.
Republican voters, by and large, have come to distrust science. A Paul Vale column in the HuffPost a few days ago revealed some staggering statistics: according to a Pew poll in 2009, 54% of Republican voters believed in evolution. A 2013 Pew poll showed only 43% of Republican voters believe in evolution. That’s a pretty significant switch in four years – to go from a slim majority to a solid minority that thinks – well, I don’t know what they think. I guess they go with the Adam and Eve story.
And because of those numbers, in front of a crowd of international reporters in London, Scott Walker was forced to delight them by “punting” on the question. The squeals of glee from Democratic punsters could be heard all the way across the Atlantic.
Before you get too smug about your own scientific beliefs, be advised that only 60% of Americans believe in evolution. Pew research discovered the older you are, the more likely you’ll believe Adam and Eve and not Charles Darwin. The Republican Party has come to rely on older voters and evangelical Christians as its base. That’s not a theory of mine; it’s more research from Pew.
The acute polarization of American politics is also at play in this “evolution” question. Over the past several years, Republican voters have come to mistrust science. Blame people like Rick Santorum, Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, or whomever you’d like, but, as I learned decades ago in college, the longer those “don’t trust the smart folks” views are held, the stronger they become. Hence, the stronger the divide.
I know enough about marketing to know that if you’re relying on an ageing base, you’re not “sustainable”, to use a current buzzword.
Some day, the Republicans are going to figure that out. But probably not during this Presidential election cycle. Just ask Scott Walker.