Stem cell research

Barbara Norrander, Jan Norrander

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


At the 2004 Democratic convention, Ron Reagan, the son of the former president, took the podium to call for increased federal funding for stem cell research. Nancy Reagan also publicly supported stem cell research in the hope that some day this research could help to cure the Alzheimer's disease that had stricken her husband. Meanwhile in California, Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supported Proposition 71, which would provide $3 billion in state aid for stem cell research. Yet despite support from some prominent Republicans, President George W. Bush generally opposed stem cell research due to ethical concerns over the destruction of human embryos. In August 2001 he had limited federal funding for such research to the existing sixty cell lines. In contrast, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry promised a fourfold increase in federal funding. The question remained whether stem cell research would become a decisive issue in the 2004 election. Various reasons existed to suspect that it would not. Voters were probably less aware of this issue than of more long-standing or common issues, such as the state of the economy. Voters also were receiving mixed signals as to the partisan content of the issue. On the one hand, voters' opinions on the stem cell issue might overlap with other moral issues, such as abortion, causing stem cell opinions to supplement, but not change, existing patterns of political preferences. On the other hand, stem cell research was a debated topic during the campaign, and positions on the issue might not line up directly with attitudes on other moral issues. In investigating these questions, the chapter proceeds as follows. We begin with a brief overview of the science behind stem cell research and then turn to an analysis of whether opinions on stem cells had any impact on the 2004 presidential vote. We conclude with a discussion of whether stem cell research is likely to become the "new abortion"-a long-standing issue that divides the parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Matter of Faith
Subtitle of host publicationReligion in the 2004 Presidential Election
PublisherBrookings Institution Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)0815710178, 9780815713272
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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