Nature has become the latest scientific journal to weigh in on the upcoming US election, publishing an endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday. It’s the third major scientific publication to caution against voting for Trump. Last week, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) condemned the current administration for its response to COVID-19 and called for new leadership, although it did not endorse Biden nor did it mention Trump by name.

On September 15, Scientific American made its first political endorsement in its 175-year history for Biden, citing Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis — which has killed more than 217,000 Americans to date — and his skepticism of climate change as motivating factors. 

Nature argues that Trump’s disregard for “so many valuable institutions,” including science, the courts, the electoral system, and the free press, make him unfit to lead.

“We cannot stand by and let science be undermined,” reads an excerpt from the piece.

“Joe Biden’s trust in truth, evidence, science, and democracy make him the only choice in the US election.”

Nature also calls out the Trump administration for its “shameful” fueling of public mistrust in health and science agencies, creating damage that could take “decades” to repair.

“His administration has picked fights with the country’s long-standing friends and allies, and walked away from crucial international scientific and environmental agreements and organizations: notably, the 2015 Paris climate accord; the Iran nuclear deal; the United Nations’ science and education agency UNESCO; and even, unthinkable in the middle of a pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO),” Nature says.

Like NEJM and Scientific American, Nature also points to Trump’s failure to handle COVID-19.

“Trump has lied about the dangers posed by the virus and has encouraged people to protest against policies intended to slow its transmission,” reads the editorial.

“The result, if not the goal, has been to downplay the greatest crisis the country — and the world — has faced in at least half a century.”

Nature calls Biden the “only choice” in the upcoming election, citing his political credentials, his respect for science and research, and his work in creating comprehensive plans to combat COVID-19 and climate change.

“Joe Biden must be given an opportunity to restore trust in truth, in evidence, in science and in other institutions of democracy, heal a divided nation, and begin the urgent task of rebuilding the United States’ reputation in the world,” reads the editorial.


The research is mixed as to whether political endorsements consistently and reliably carry any measurable weight — and this may be especially true in 2020, which has been politically polarized from the get-go. But political psychologists suggest there are some benefits to them, especially in an editorial format.

For starters, endorsement editorials can help voters “streamline” a candidate’s policies, Forbes says. And celebrity pushes can also help, but that isn’t always the case. 

A 2012 study found that an endorsement for President Obama from Oprah in the 2008 Democratic Primary translated into an additional 1,000,000 votes for him, securing Obama the ticket over Hillary Clinton. But an October 2019 endorsement of Bernie Sanders from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary wasn’t enough to seal the deal: Sanders still lost to Biden by nearly 10 million votes.

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