Faculty for Clinton, grad students for Obama

It appears we've come down to two and a half candidates who would be reasonable for most scientists to consider--Clinton, Obama and Edwards.

Science magazine's special on Presidential contenders came out last week. While the summary is available to all, the detailed reports on individual candidates' positions require a subscription. In a nutshell, outside of McCain's global warming stance--a position giving him some 'sci-cred'--Science finds that working on science policy with the Republican candidates would be more difficult than with Democrats, and I'd have to agree. Obviously, a minority of scientists--in academia at least--actually do vote Republican, those issues notwithstanding, but it would appear that most do so for reasons other than science policy [i.e. abortion might be an issue of more importance for religiously oriented scientists].

Wired summarizes the basic gist of what Science has to say about the Democrats...with some slight inaccuracies (remember that they falsely claimed Gore said he'd invented the internet): Under [George W. Bush's] oversight, the National Instutes of Health enjoyed an unprecedented increase in federal funding. Technically that's correct in the sense that Bush did nothing to stop the NIH doubling that Bill Clinton pushed through and the previous Congress funded. After the doubling was complete, however, Bush and the Republican Congress effectively decreased NIH funding with successive 0% increases since the biotech inflation rate lies somewhere around 7-8%.

Those decreases led to fewer grants being funded which led to a great deal of pain for researchers who already give up alot for science: low income graduate school life lasts for half a decade after college at least, the time immediately following that (the "postdoc") is one of only marginally higher income and few benefits; by the time most of us would need to receive our first big grant to continue our careers, 40 isn't too far off. But we gladly put up with this relatively minor sacrifice. Which is why we don't like it when we get screwed.

So along comes Hillary, who promises to double NIH funding again! We don't know if she'll actually be able to find the money to do so. We also don't know if future scientists will fare any better than we have done so far when the next Bush gets selected President after Hillary. It doesn't matter. She promises a doubling and we know from the last Clinton that they're willing to deliver on that promise. Obama also talks of doubling, but it's unclear exactly whose money he wants to double and how. Besides, we're told now that primarily younger voters--presumably our students--vote for him. And Edwards...well Edwards is a fine candidate. But we crave that 'good time feeling' from back in the 90s again. Therefore, Clinton is our candidate.

So sayeth Science.