A few years ago an academic friend of mine mentioned offhand that it must be difficult for me to be an evolutionary biologist (of sorts) and a conservative (of sorts). As someone in touch with many “elite conservatives” (people who work at think-tanks and the like), that’s not true at all. Though Creationism has substantial support at the grassroots (the only time I have encountered evolution-skepticism in the last ten years has been from people who grew up fundamentalist), the reality is that at the elite levels in the conservative movement it is not a widespread position.
But, conservatives are still divided. Looking at the General Social Survey EVOLVED variable, and limiting to non-Hispanic whites, you see that while there is nearly total unanimity among self-identified liberals with college educations or higher that humans developed from animals, college-educated conservatives are split.
If you run some regressions you will see a lot of this is due not to politics, but to what politics is correlated with. Self-identified conservatives are much more likely to be religious conservatives. Those conservatives who are not religious conservatives are not very skeptical of evolution.
But one issue that I am wondering about: if most elite conservatives have no issue with evolution, and even college-educated conservatives are split down the middle, why is there so little “balance” at conservative publications? That is, periodically there is a report or opinion favorable to Intelligent Design published. But there is rarely a counter-response, even though attitudes amongst the readership are surely mixed?
I may personally attempt to change this a bit by submitting “pro-evolution” pieces here and there. We’ll see how that works out.