The Pew Research Center has released  a new national survey showing that while favorable opinions of Islam have declined since 2005, there has been virtually no change over the past year in the proportion of Americans saying that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence. As was the case a year ago, slightly more people say the Islamic religion does  not encourage violence more than other religions (42 percent) than say that it does (35 percent).

As in the past, there are substantial partisan, educational and age differences in opinions about Islam. By more than two-to-one (54% to 21%), Republicans express an unfavorable opinion of Islam; the balance of opinion among independents is negative (40% unfavorable vs. 28% favorable). Among Democrats, favorable opinions of Islam outnumber unfavorable ones (by 41% to 27%).

While those who are younger than 50 have mixed views of Islam, the balance of opinion is more negative among those older than 50 (44% unfavorable vs. 24% favorable). By a margin of 47% to 28%, college graduates express favorable opinions of Islam; pluralities of those with less education express unfavorable views.

For me the most surprising finding is that nearly one-third of Americans (32 percent) have no opinion of Islam. Fewer people have an opinion of Islam now than they did five years ago.

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