Here’s an interesting new wrinkle in the data on support for same sex marriage. According to Gallup, 53% of Americans now favor such marriages, but we don’t necessarily think other people do. Overall, Americans, on average, think that 63% of their fellow citizens oppose same sex marriage; in fact, 45% do. That’s an over-estimate of 18 percentage points!
Interestingly, Americans of all stripes — Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, old and young — underestimate support for same sex marriage. Liberals come the closest, thinking that 48% approve; conservatives are the farthest off, thinking that only 16% do.
This data resonates with the recent finding that both Democratic and Republican politicians underestimate their constituents’ progressiveness. I suspect that these misconceptions may make politicians wary about pressing for progressive policies; I wonder how similar misconceptions among the voting public might shape the pace and trajectory of social change.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.