American Muslim Poll 2016, with comparisons to American Jews, Catholics and Protestants

Sponsor(s): Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Principal Investigator(s): Dalia Mogahed, Fouad Pervez

Study Dates: January 18, 2016 to January 30, 2016

Key Findings:

Survey of American Muslims, Jews, Protestants and Catholics conducted for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in January, 2016 was undertaken to examine  "...attitudes on various issues ranging from politics and religion, to violence and identity. What emerged from the results is a profile of a Muslim community that is both pious and patriotic, optimistic and weary of discrimination; a community that is similar to Jews in its politics, and much like Protestants in its religious practice."

Highlights: (selected by DataBank)


Muslims are the youngest and most racially diverse major religious community in America—the only community without a majority race. White, black, Asian, and Arab represent nearly equal percentages of all Muslim Americans. Muslims are also by far the youngest faith community, with half the population younger than 35.

► Discrimination:

The majority of Muslims report some level of discrimination—the highest of any major faith group. More than half of Muslims reported experiencing discrimination in the past year based on their religion, with 18 percent reporting regular discrimination.  In comparison, 5 percent of Jews, 4 percent of Catholics and 2 percent of Protestants reported regular discrimination.

• Despite reporting highest levels of discrimination, Muslims respondents are the most optimistic.  The percentage of Muslims who are satisfied with the direction the country is going is almost double the level of optimism shown by Jews, the second-most satisfied religious group (63 vs. 38 percent).


Muslims lean Democratic, favor Democratic Candidates (see Figure 2, page 5 of Main Report).  

• 44% of Muslims identify as Democrats, 41% Independents and 5% as Republicans compared to Jews: 50% Democrats, 29% Independents, 16% Republicans. Catholic and Protestants identify much differently.  Among Catholics, 34% Democrats, 31% Independent and 34% Republican; among Protestants: 25% Democratic, 24% Independent and 47% Republican.

● Hillary Clinton finds her strongest support among Muslims (40 percent of Muslims vs. 30 percent of Jews and 13 percent of Protestants and Catholics).

● Muslims are as likely as Jews to favor Bernie Sanders (27 and 24 percent, respectively).

● Donald Trump has his lowest support in the Muslim community (4 percent).


Muslims are at least as likely as members of other faith groups to reject violence.

● Muslims oppose the targeting and killing of civilians by the military more than people in other faith groups (65 percent say it is never justified compared to 45 percent among Jews and 43 and 40 percent among Catholics and Protestants). 

Political engagement:  

Muslims engaged in their community, but less politically.

• Muslims are as likely (38 percent) as Jews (40 percent) and Catholics (42 percent) to report cooperating with people in their neighborhoods to solve problems.

● Muslims are the least likely faith group to be politically engaged. 

o Only 60 percent of Muslims who reported they could legally vote were registered to do so compared with at least 86 percent of Jews, Catholics, and Protestants.

o Roughly 15 percent of Muslims who are able to vote do not plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election, the largest of any group.

Religious Engagement

Muslims are similar to Protestants in their religious service attendance (42 percent of Muslims, 45 percent of Protestants and 38% of Catholics reported attending religious services at least weekly) -  compared to 21% of American Jews.

Similarly, 87% of Muslims say religion is extremely or somewhat important to their daily lives compared to 94 percent of Protestants, 96% of Catholics -  and 67% of Jewish respondents (see Figure 9, page 8 of Main Report).



Interviews completed with 515 Muslims, 312 Jewish respondents by SSRS, Social Science Research Solutions.  David Dutwin of SSRS served as Chief Methodologist for the survey.

Triton Polling and Research interviewed 1,021 survey respondents for the comparative sample of Protestants and Catholics. 

Sample Size: 515 Muslim, 312 Jewish respondents; 1,021 general population interviews

Sample Notes:

Research Methodology is summarized in both the Main Report and the Key Findings.  Additional details on sampling error, etc., in separate Methodology Report.

January 2016 survey of Muslims, Jews, Protestants and Catholics.  

 SSRS - Social Science Research Solutions -  completed survey of 515 Muslim respondents and 312 Jewish respondents.  Sample largely derived from recontacts of respondents from SSRS randomly selected Omnibus survey respondents via landline and cell phone; these RDD-based interviews supplemented by Muslim lists purchased from Experian (N=171 Muslim interviews) and a web panel online surveys for an additional 106 Muslim respondents. Data were weighted to match estimates of Jewish and Muslim respondents from SSRS Omnibus surveys over previous three years and data from Pew Research Center's Muslim survey in 2011.  Margin of error (MOE): 6.9% for Muslim telephone sample and 7% for Jewish sample (including design effect).  Details in Methodology report

• Triton Polling & Research completed 1,021 landline and cell phone interviews of the general population for Protestant, Catholic comparisons.  Interviews based on lists purchased by Triton from various sources, including voting records, RDD interviews and consumer lists.  MOE reported as 3.1%.  weighted to US data by age, gender, political party and region of USA.  Few details in methodology report; unclear if Triton sample only included non-Jews and non-Muslims, or if only Protestants and Catholics compared to SSRS-interviewed sample.

Study Notes:

PowerPoint PDF of slide sets gives an excellent overview -  and last slides allow for feedback to presentation.

Appendix III: Tables provides an excellent summary comparison of the views of Muslims, Jews, Protestants and Catholics on key survey questions, including the precise wording of questions used.  Brief, easy-to-read data comparisons.

Graphs from the 2016 Muslim Poll added in 2017 as a separate zip file at the same time that the 2017 Muslim Poll results and materials were released, including graphs from the 2017 Muslim poll..




Language: English