Survey Examines Perceptions of Muslim Americans

Press Release
Nov. 1, 2018

Washington, DC – Thursday, November 1, 2018 New America, in collaboration with the American Muslim Institution (AMI), released new research that examines the general public’s perceptions of Muslim Americans. The “Americans’ Views of Muslims Survey” was conducted leading up to the midterm elections in November 2018 – a time period when myths and misinformation about Muslims have figured prominently in some local, state, and federal elections. The research provides insight into public perceptions of Muslim Americans at both the national and local levels in Houston, Orlando, Tampa, and the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, where oversamplings were done.

Findings include:

  • Americans are largely accepting of Muslim Americans, but express concerns.
    • More than half of non-Muslim Americans are concerned about extremism spreading within Muslim communities in the United States.
    • One-in-three respondents each reported feeling uncomfortable when they see Muslim Americans wearing a veil or other Islamic attire.
    • One-in-three respondents would be concerned if a mosque or Islamic center was built in their neighborhood.
    • One-in-three respondents believe Muslims should be subject to extra security screenings at airports.
  • Americans have an inaccurate understanding of the scope of the Muslim population in the U.S.
    • Non-Muslim Americans believe one-in-six Americans are Muslim (or 17% of the population), whereas Muslim Americans actually comprise of about 1% of the U.S. population.
    • Two-in-five respondents do not personally know a Muslim American.
  • Discrimination against Muslims is evident to respondents and skepticism around hate crime reporting is low. Recognition of discrimination against Jews is much more limited.
    • A majority of non-Muslim Americans (71%) agree there is a lot of discrimination against Muslim Americans, levels akin to discrimination against Transgender people (68%) and Blacks (67%).
    • Two-thirds disagree the same discrimination is evident for Jews in America, however. It should be noted this survey was conducted prior to the October 27th Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting.

Methodology: SSRS conducted a multimodal study with 1,785 interviews from October 16 through October 21, 2018. The study included a national non-Muslim sample with 1,165 interviews, which was based on SSRS’s national probability web panel (N=1,031) and the SSRS Omnibus telephone survey (N=134), a nationally representative weekly telephone survey. An additional 620 interviews were conducted in four cities with non-Muslim oversamples via a nonprobability (opt in) web panel, with 151 interviews collected in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, 150 in Houston, 165 in Orlando; and 154 in Tampa.

For questions or additional information, please contact Robert L. McKenzie, PhD, Director and Senior fellow at New America and the study’s principal investigator. You can email him at

 Attitudes About Muslims Survey Data - 1  Attitudes About Muslims Survey Data - 2  Attitudes About Muslims Survey Data - 3  Topline Results  Press Release