American Muslim Poll

Why This Report?

In the years after the September 11th attacks in America, Muslims have been the subjects of frequent discussions but seldom among the participants. This attention often increases around elections as some political leaders use identity politics in their discourse and their policy proposals to target Muslims, as happened in the Ground Zero mosque discussions during the 2010 midterm elections, and the calls to close down mosques and ban all Muslims from entering the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rise and constant media coverage of the so-called Islamic State is often conflated with discussions about Islam itself, creating an environment of fear of Muslims among some Americans. One study found that 80 percent of news coverage about Islam and Muslims in the United States is negative, with armed militants, not religious leaders, representing the faith.

Roughly half of Americans say they don’t know a Muslim and the faith group is the least warmly regarded religious community in America. The lack of Muslim voices in the national discourse makes much of the discussion of the community speculative or worse. These combined factors work to create a climate in which the majority of American Muslims report some level of discrimination—the highest of any major faith group.

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) offers a badly needed evidence-based contribution to this highly charged and often misinformed national conversation. Muslims were surveyed not as isolated specimens, but within the context of their country’s faith landscape, along with Jews, Protestants, and Catholics. The survey examines the attitudes of these American faith groups on various topics from politics and religion, to violence and identity. What emerges is the profile of a Muslim community that is both pious and patriotic, optimistic and weary of discrimination, similar to Jews in its politics, and much like Protestants in its religious practice.

I refer to ISPU's American Muslim poll when I give public talks on Islamophobia. It helps to nuance the picture of American Muslims and to challenge unfair stereotypes concerning Islam's compatibility with the U.S. Keep up the outstanding work!

– Todd Green, Associate Professor of Religion at Luther College

Report and Key Findings

Supplementary Documents

Related Projects

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  • In the midst of a polarized and heated election season in 2016 where Muslims were frequent subjects of national debate, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) set out to discover what American Muslims wanted for themselves. ISPU researchers set out to answer three...

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  • If the last two elections are any indication, candidates in the 2016 presidential race may be tempted to engage in Muslim-bashing – playing off national security anxieties and fostering racial and religious animus – to win the vote. But anti-Muslim bigotry comes at a high...

American Muslim Poll 2016 – The Graphs

Poll Launch Video

Media Coverage

Meet the Research Team

Dalia Mogahed

Director of Research, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Fouad Pervez

Fouad Pervez

Data Analyst

Maryam Jamali

Maryam Jamali

Research Manager, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Sarrah Buageila

Project Manager, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Stephen McGrath

Stephen McGrath

Communications Manager, Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

Karam Dana

PhD Interdisciplinary Near and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Washington

Assistant Professor, University of Washington School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

David Dutwin

David Dutwin

Executive Vice President and Chief Methodologist, SSRS

2016 Conference Chair, AAPOR Executive Council

Research Scholar, Institute for Jewish and Community Research

Rachel Gillum

Rachel M. Gillum

PhD Political Science, Stanford University

Visiting Scholar, Stanford University

Fellow, Association for Analytic Learning about Islam and Muslim Societies