Discrimination and Demographics

25 Sep, 2018

Public Affairs Pulse Survey

Discrimination and Demographics

Discrimination is an issue upon which opinions can vary sharply based on political affiliation, age, gender, ethnicity and education.

Differences Between Political Parties
According to the 2016 Public Affairs Pulse survey data, on balance, Republicans are less likely than Democrats and Independents to see discrimination across the seven categories identified in the survey: race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, gender and age. While majorities of Republicans say racial and religious discrimination are serious problems, smaller percentages of GOP voters are as concerned about the other forms.

The largest differences between Republicans and Democrats show up in attitudes about gender identity discrimination (46% of Republicans versus 84% of Democrats view the matter to be serious) and sexual orientation (45% of Republicans versus 79% of Democrats say this is a serious problem). The smallest difference in attitudes relates to religious discrimination (52% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats call this issue serious). Majorities of Independents say all seven forms of discrimination are serious, but the percentages are not as high as those for Democrats.

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[NOTE: A recent Gallup poll shows that 45 percent of Americans say they are not a member of either major party.]

Differences by Age and Gender
Age and gender also factor in the public’s beliefs. People under 50 are more likely than older people to say most forms of discrimination are a serious problem, and, in general, women are more likely than men to be concerned about discrimination. In some cases, the differences can be dramatic. For example:

  • Three-quarters (75%) of women under 50 believe that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a serious problem, yet only 51 percent of men over 50 agree with this assessment.
  • Sixty-four percent of men under 50 say religious discrimination is a serious problem, while only 47 percent of older men agree.

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Other Demographic Differences
The poll also captured demographic differences on the seriousness of discrimination based on ethnicity and education attainment.

  • African-Americans and Latinos are more concerned than white Americans about the seriousness of discrimination across all categories. One of the biggest differences shows up in attitudes about discrimination by gender identity, which is called a serious problem by 63 percent of white Americans, 76 percent of Hispanics and 87 percent of African-Americans.
  • Views on the seriousness of discrimination by education attainment reveal the biggest differences between the highest level of education (postgraduate) and the lowest (high school or less) across the categories of age (61% vs. 49%), race (80% vs. 72%) and gender (67% vs. 60%).

Learn more about the public’s concerns about discrimination in its many forms

Learn more about corporate America’s role in combating discrimination

The Public Affairs Pulse survey, conducted September 12–17, 2016, by Public Opinion Strategies, is based on a telephone poll of 1,000 adults nationwide.


Laura Horsley
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
202.787.5963 | email