Americans who suffer from coulrophobia can finally come out of the closet now that a new poll found that more people than not hate clowns.

Although only 12 percent admit to suffering from the phobia, a much-larger 43 percent told Rasmussen Reports that they don't like clowns. Some 40 percent do.

And backing up anecdotal evidence that younger Americans really can’t stand clowns, Rasmussen found that 60 percent of those in the 18-39 age group would rather go clown-free. Women especially dislike clowns, said the poll.

The poll follows reports that the nation is suffering from a clown shortage. Yes, the the World Clown Association's membership has declined to 2,400 from 3,500 a decade ago.

The poll, which comes in advance of the circus season, with most of the traveling companies like Washington area-based Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus beginning in February, found that a sizable majority of adults, 61 percent, have been to the circus.

But very few have thought about joining the "Greatest Show on Earth." Just 6 percent told Rasmussen that they have considered “running away with the circus.”

The public is more divided on how they believe circus trainers handle their animals, with 33 percent believing animals are mistreated, 33 percent believing they are well-treated, and 41 percent not sure.

The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted on Feb. 23-24 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at