GOV. PAWLENTY: We’ve said in Minnesota, in my view, this is a local decision. Intelligent design is something that, in my view, is plausible and credible and something that I personally believe in but, more importantly, from an educational and scientific standpoint, it should be decided by local school boards at the local school district level.
The problem with local school boards is that when they go for this stuff, like in Dover, PA, they don’t generally slant toward anodyne Intelligent Design shorn of its sectarian connotations. This is why the Discovery Institute worked to disassociate themselves from the Dover School District.
In any case, I’m on the record as saying that predictions for 2012 are very premature. But, it looks like 3 of the front-runners for the G.O.P. nomination are rather frank Creationists (Palin, Huckabee and Pawlenty). I’m skeptical about any of these as likely candidates (i.e., if you had to make a bet you’re going to be surprised), but if you keep adding individuals to the list it seems likely that we’re looking at a serious probability that the G.O.P. nominee in 2012 will be a Creationist.
Creationism doesn’t really have the same valence as abortion as a “culture war” issue, but, it is useful in being a distinctive marker for social conservative candidates. Mitt Romney is now notionally as pro-life as the social conservatives, but it seems unlikely that he’ll flip his position on evolution since he expressed himself so explicitly in the 2008 debates.