Skip to content

Link Copied

This Chart Shows America Is Way Less LGBT Than We Think

Americans’ perceptions of the number of LGBT people in the country tend to be way overblown, according to a new poll.

SO WHAT

The findings are inconvenient for the social justice crowd.

WHAT AMERICA SEES IN THE MIRROR

The YouGov America survey released Tuesday found Americans think lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people make up roughly one-third of the U.S. population.

In reality, the percentage of U.S. residents who identify as LGBT is in the low single digits (though it is rising).

  • The poll showed Americans tend to significantly overestimate the size of minority groups in general, including black Americans (estimate: 41% of the population; true: 12%), Muslim Americans (estimate: 27%, true: 1%) and Native Americans (estimate: 27%, true: 1%).
  • Meanwhile, respondents consistently underestimated the size of majority groups, including Christians (estimate: 58%, true: 70%).

WHY THE MIRROR IS BROKEN

This funhouse-mirror self-impression of America has been documented before, with researchers chalking it up factors like media bias and fear of out-groups.

  • But the YouGov pollsters found Americans are just as likely to overestimate the size of non-“socially charged” minority groups, such as left-handed people (estimate: 31%, true 11%), and of minority groups they are members of themselves.
  • Also, correcting exaggerated perceptions of group size has not been shown to change people’s attitudes about related issues, as in the case of immigration.
  • The pollsters thus endorsed a different, more banal explanation for the confusion: People often revert to the perceived mean (50%) when guessing the size of a group.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If the tendency to exaggerate the size of small groups is universal, there must be different reasons that certain minorities attract outsized controversy in U.S. politics and culture.

  • Maybe, just maybe, the debates over transgender rights or illegal immigration are based on real ideological disagreements, not conservatives’ hate and fear.

The 4PM: A highlight reel of today’s news.
For conservatives.
Every afternoon at 4PM.