Science Debate and US Presidential Candidates

On August 10, posed 20 questions on current science issues to the Presidential candidates, as they did in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. The Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have been invited to answer these questions in written replies as well as discussing them in campaign appearances and public debates.

The 20 questions were crowd-sourced from the public and refined, from hundreds of suggestions, by experts at 56 of America’s leading nonpartisan organizations, including ESA, representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers.

Science, engineering, health and environmental issues affect every voter’s life as profoundly as the foreign policy, economic policy, and faith and values candidates often discuss on the campaign trail. The coalition seeks incorporate these issues into our national dialog.

“Sometimes politicians think science issues are limited to simply things like the budget for NASA or NIH, and they fail to realize that a President’s attitude toward and decisions about science and research affect the public wellbeing, from the growth of our economy, to education, to public health. Voters should have a chance to know where the Presidential candidates stand,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

“By engaging the candidates in a debate focusing on topics in science, engineering, technology, and innovation, it would be an opportunity for all voters to gauge how the candidates would use sound technical information in their future decision making,” said Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences.

A 2015 poll by Zogby Analytics of Americans 18 years and older found 86 percent think that presidential candidates “should participate in a debate to discuss key science-based challenges facing the United States.” President Obama, Senator McCain and Governor Romney answered similar questions in 2008 and 2012.’s promotion of their responses yielded more than 850 million earned media impressions in each of those campaign cycles.