Home > Press Releases > New Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose Laws Requiring Transgender Individuals to Use Bathrooms Corresponding to Sex at Birth Rather than Gender Identity
New Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose Laws Requiring Transgender Individuals to Use Bathrooms Corresponding to Sex at Birth Rather than Gender Identity
08.25.2016

Trump Trailing Clinton by 13 Points,
Faltering among Key Group of White Catholics

WASHINGTON—As a federal judge in Texas blocks the Obama administration’s guidelines on expanding bathroom use in public schools for transgender students, a major new national survey released today finds that a majority (53 percent) of Americans oppose laws that require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their sex at birth rather than their current gender identity, compared to 35 percent who favor such laws. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Democrats oppose laws that would require transgender individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their assigned sex at birth, while Republicans are evenly divided: 44 percent favor, 44 percent oppose.

The nonpartisan PRRI conducted the LGBT Issues and the 2016 Election Survey among 2,014 Americans between August 10-16, 2016. Just 11 weeks ahead of the election, the survey examines attitudes on a number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues and the 2016 presidential race.

“The survey also reveals stark partisan divides on perceptions of discrimination against minority groups that are a window into contrasting world views,” noted PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones. “While majorities of Democrats and independents believe minority groups continue to face significant discrimination in the country today, fewer than half of Republicans agree.”

Approximately three-quarters of Democrats say there is a lot of discrimination against gay and lesbian people (75 percent), transgender people (76 percent), blacks (79 percent), and immigrants (80 percent). Notably, fewer than half of Republicans believe gay and lesbian people (42 percent), transgender people (47 percent), blacks (32 percent), or immigrants (46 percent) face significant discrimination. Independents’ attitudes on this issue mirror Americans overall.

Republicans also have a rosier view of their own party’s posture toward LGBT people. Republicans are nearly twice as likely as Americans overall to say the Republican Party is at least somewhat friendly toward LGBT people (60 percent vs. 33 percent, respectively). By contrast, more than seven in ten (73 percent) Americans say the Democratic Party is at least somewhat friendly towards LGBT people, while 13 percent say the party is at least somewhat unfriendly towards the group.

The survey also finds Republican candidate Donald Trump trailing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by 13 percentage points: 35 percent vs. 48 percent. However, both candidates are struggling to connect deeply with voters, with only 42 percent of voters saying Clinton shares their values, and even fewer (31 percent) saying the same of Trump. Democratic voters are significantly more likely to say Clinton shares their values (78%) than Republican voters are to say Trump shares their values (70%). Religious groups are also significantly divided in attitudes about both candidates’ values. White evangelical Protestant voters are the only religious group in which a majority (56%) say Trump shares their values, while majorities of black Protestants (79 percent) and non-white Catholics (70 percent) say Clinton shares their values.

The survey demonstrates that Trump’s appeal has been strongest among white Protestant voters. A majority of white evangelical Protestant voters (62 percent Trump vs. 23 percent Clinton) and a plurality of white mainline Protestant voters (47 percent Trump vs. 37 percent Clinton) support Trump over Clinton.

Trump’s appeal is weaker among white Catholic voters, a group that has consistently supported Republican presidential candidates. White Catholic voters are closely divided but lean toward Clinton (44 percent Clinton vs. 41 percent Trump), while non-white Catholic voters overwhelmingly support Clinton over Trump (76 percent vs. 13 percent, respectively). Majorities of religiously unaffiliated voters (55 percent vs. 24 percent, respectively) and black Protestant voters (89 percent vs. 2 percent, respectively) support Clinton over Trump.

Additional Key Findings

The 2016 Election:

  • Trump continues to struggle to appeal to minority voters: Only 18 percent of Hispanic voters and 4 percent of black voters say will vote for the Republican standard-bearer.
  • Gender differences in support for Clinton and Trump are also stark. Male voters are evenly divided between the two candidates: 43 percent support Clinton while 42 percent support Trump. Female voters, in contrast, prefer Clinton over Trump by a nearly two to one ratio: a majority (54 percent) of female voters express a preference for Clinton, compared to 28 percent who support Trump.
  • Only about one in five (22 percent) voters who regularly attend religious services report hearing clergy members speak about the presidential election, but churchgoing black voters stand out, with 51 percent reporting their clergy has spoken about it. Just 20 percent of churchgoing white evangelical Protestant voters say the same.

Growing Support for Same-sex Marriage:

  • There is growing support for same-sex marriage: Today, more than six in ten (62 percent) Americans say they favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, up from 47 percent in 2011 and 32 percent in 2003.
  • Today, only 41 percent of Americans say same-sex marriage goes against their religious beliefs, down 10 percentage points from 51 percent in 2013.
  • More than four in ten (44 percent) Americans say they would not vote for a candidate who opposed same-sex marriage, including a majority (56 percent) of Democrats but just 20 percent of Republicans.

Other LGBT Policies:

  • There is broad, bipartisan support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws, with more than seven in ten (72 percent) Americans saying they favor laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. Fewer than one-quarter (23 percent) of Americans oppose such laws.
  • Eight in ten (80 percent) Americans wrongly believe it is currently illegal under federal law to fire or refuse to hire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, while just 14 percent of Americans know it is currently legal to do so.
  • By a roughly two to one margin, Americans oppose (63 percent) rather than favor (30 percent) allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Eight in ten (80 percent) Democrats oppose such a policy, while a majority (52 percent) of Republicans support it. With the exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of every major religious group oppose religiously based service refusals.

The topline questionnaire, full methodology, and additional findings and analysis can be found here: http://www.prri.org/research/poll-lgbt-transgender-bathroom-bill-presidential-election/.

Methodology

The LGBT Issues and the 2016 Election was designed and conducted by PRRI. Results of the survey are based on bilingual (Spanish and English) telephone interviews conducted between August 10, 2016, and August 16, 2016. Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 2,014 adults 18 years of age or older living in the United States (1,206 respondents were interviewed on a cell phone, and 1,630 respondents were registered voters). The survey was made possible by grants from The Arcus Foundation and The Ford Foundation. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.6 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. The design effect for the survey is 1.4. The margin of error for registered voters is +/- 2.9 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization specializing in research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.