Here’s an interesting wrinkle in the data on support for same-sex marriage. According to Gallup, 53 percent of Americans now favor such marriages, but we don’t necessarily think other people do. Overall, Americans, on average, think that 63 percent of their fellow citizens oppose same-sex marriage; in fact, 45 percent 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 percent approve; conservatives are the farthest off, thinking that only 16 percent 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.