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ABC/WP birther poll: More of the same

Topics: birther , misperception , Obama

For those who missed it, the ABC News/Washington Post poll (PDF) released last week included a question about the misperception that President Obama was not born in this country. They found that 20% of Americans think Obama was not born in this country, including 31% of Republicans: Abc-birther-gen
Abcwp-birther

What's striking is that the results are almost identical to the CBS News/New York Times poll released last month, which found that 20% of Americans think Obama was born elsewhere, including 30% of Tea Party supporters:

Image6396385_1

In short, this myth isn't going away any time soon. For more, see my previous posts on the birther myth and my research with Jason Reifler on the persistence of political misperceptions.

[Cross-posted on brendan-nyhan.com]

 

Comments
Ptolemy:

From the NYT Caucus blog last month: "The poll did not include any follow-up questions on the issue, so The Times called back some of the respondents... But the respondents were generally vague, with some suggesting that part of the skepticism regarding the president’s birthplace may have more to do with distrust of Mr. Obama himself than with any evidence they have seen on the issue."

The real issue is cynicism regarding Obama (and perhaps contempt of pollsters) not his birthplace!

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/obama-and-the-birthers-in-the-latest-poll/

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Aaron_in_TX:

"some suggesting that part of the skepticism regarding the president’s birthplace may have more to do with distrust of Mr. Obama himself"

In that case, the report isn't all that bad. 20% of people probably thought Bill Clinton ordered Ron Brown's death or something like that, and surely more than 20% probably believed George W. Bush lied about WMD in Iraq or knew something about 9/11 before it happened. I bet more than 20% believed LBJ had JFK killed.

There are always conspiracy theories that presidents have to deal with. Obama should just ignore this one; there's nothing he can do about it that will satisfy them. He produced a birth document during the 2008 campaign, and most damning are the birth notices in two seperate Hawaii newspapers in 1961. Several news agencies have debunked Orly Taitz's claims. No matter what document he produces, there will be people who call it a forgery, fake, etc... These people believe he is "not an American citizen" and nothing will convince them otherwise.

Chester Arthur was never able to fully shed his birther conspiracy. This type of conspiracy/paranoia is simply part of American politics.

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Aaron_in_TX:

Some of the people questioned by the NYT didn't care where he was born (most of the younger ones), and others didn't even make sense, like this one:

"Another poll respondent, Duane Rasmussen, a Republican from Reno, Nev., questioned the validity of Mr. Obama’s papers. “He has not produced a birth certificate from Hawaii,” Mr. Rasmussen said. “There were some pseudo-tries, and all of them have problems as birth certificates. They were not authentic. I believe he is a socialist.”"

What does your birthplace have to do with being a socialist?

Anyone who's ever done historical or genealogical research knows that original birth certificates are sometimes hard to find. I searched for this one woman from a particular town in MS born sometime btw 1940-43...all evidence pointed to her birth in that town, all family told me she was born there, but no birth record. Did find a marriage record from the 60s, but no birth record. Guess she wasn't a citizen.

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Marcello Mastroianni:

As the above comments by Aaron_in_TX and Ptolemy suggest, the "birther" perception is likely part of American's traditional distrust of both government and the media. In some ways, this could be a good thing: when Americans stop questioning the authorities, that's when we're really in trouble!

And I'm starting to wonder about the President's citizenship myself: I saw him speak not long ago, and he sounded suspiciously like European Aristocracy. He can be a real snob sometimes, y'know?

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StatyPolly:

I heard/read a theory recently that sounded plausible to me.

BO was born BEFORE his parents were married, and that fact is reflected in the original birth certificate, and he is embarrassed by it.

I couldn't care either way, and few people would, but he might.

We need to focus of obtaining the original Marriage License instead. Haha..

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GARY WAGNER:

"Obama should just ignore this one; there's nothing he can do about it that will satisfy them."

Obama doesn't ever want this question to die. He brought it up himself in mocking people about it when he spoke at the DC correspondants dinner.

Haven't you noticed which news outlets have been hitting this over and over again? You can't get much more liberal than NYT/WaPo.

This is the best diversion Obama has and he isn't going to give it up. It gives him a chance to mock and attack people and that's why he'll keep it alive.

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Ptolemy:

From the paranoid conspiracy theorists at the AP: "It's now law in Hawaii that the state government can ignore repetitive requests for President Barack Obama's birth certificate... Both [state Health Director] Fukino and the state registrar of vital statistics have verified that the Health Department holds Obama's original birth certificate."

'Nuff said!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100513/ap_on_re_us/us_obama_birth_certificate_2

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steve:

I saw this on another site and thought it was on target: "The birther movement is horified that a non-white, progressively liberal man is President. No matter how many times officials from Hawaii indicate that, yes, the half black/half white child of a woman who is a US citizen and a Kenyan man does if fact meet the requirements of the constitution, they will continue to be hateful and say he: 1) Is a Muslim (even though he was raised Christian and has been Christian for his entire life); 2) Went to a "Madrassa" (they call it a normal school in Indonesia for those folks who have never left their home town; and 3) He is a Communist (his brand of social justice is directly in line with the greatest of American values of caring for your neighbor and wanting equality).
In reality he is a MODERATE and liberals don't believe he has done enough to enact social change and stand up for the values they advance. He is very much center left, not the coming anti-Christ!
Honestly, even if you disagree with his aims or his process, be respectful and don't be nuts!"

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