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Disturbing poll on beliefs about Obama's birth

Topics: birth certificate , misperception , Muslim , myth , Obama

As Emily notes, a new Daily Kos-sponsored poll from Research 2000 finds that only 77% of Americans, and 42% of Republicans, believe Obama was born in this country -- a result that suggests the Obama birth certificate myth has circulated more widely than previously thought.

Here are the findings in a bit more detail, including partisan and regional breakdowns which show that the false belief that Obama was not born in this country is most commonly held by Republicans and residents of the South:

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 7/27-30. All adults. MoE 2%

Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?

Yes      77
No       11
Not sure 12

         Yes   No   Not sure
Dem       93    4    3
Rep       42   28   30
Ind       83    8    9

Northeast 93    4    3
South     47   23   30
Midwest   90    6    4
West      87    7    6

To put these numbers in perspective, we can compare them to the most recent Pew poll on the prevalence of the false belief that Obama is a Muslim (click on the chart for a larger version):

Muslim-v-noncitizen

As you can see, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the number of correct responses is much higher on the citizenship question than the religion question. On the other hand, the proportion of incorrect answers is also much higher on the citizenship question among Republicans, which suggests that the encouragement of the birth certificate myth by conservative pundits and Republican politicians has begun to activate the GOP base on this issue. I'm not sure if Michael Steele is going to be able to make this "unnecessary distraction" go away any time soon.

(Methodological details: The chart above describes responses saying Obama was born in the U.S. or not as "citizen"/"non-citizen," which should be interpreted as shorthand for whether he is believed to be a natural-born citizen. It also groups all responses other than "Christian" and "Muslim" from the Pew poll into a "Don't know" category, including the 6% of respondents who refused to answer the question among the general population and the unknown proportion of Republicans who refused to do so.)

(Cross-posted at www.brendan-nyhan.com)

 

Comments
Mark in LA:

There is now an official "Party of Stupid." There is no other logical way to interpret this data.
If Republicans don't like the label, they'll start speaking up when dozens of their elected Representatives and Senators continue to encourage this nonsense.

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Felix S. K. Henriksen:

Maybe my english gramma is wrong but adding the "or not" to the end of the question does seem to be unnessesary. I would thing it gives the answers a bias towards "no"

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IdahoMulato:

This also shows how the south is un-informed and paranoia.

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Grabe, MD:

Mark in LA: What is stupid is to believe "facts" from a blog.

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Grabe, MD:

OK, I just have to get this off my chest...

It speaks for idiocy already - but who’re the idiots? Judging a group as stupid en mass based on blog posts is idiocy. This is especially so as reposting is becoming so wide spread - adopting the journalism practice that if it is already published it is fair game.

Where’s the source? Who holds them accountable? Who knows? More importantly, who cares?

Wow! Rhetoric! We have rhetoric here! Must be true!

It seems the socio-rhetorical masturbation in blogs is juicing up to an all-time climactic wank-a-thon high. "Are you done? Wipe yourself off please; next?"

I recommend learning more about scientific polls and surveys.

Surveys and polls lead, and are often misleading, and the sampling on such things can be skewed. Moreover, nothing - I repeat nothing is able to prevent what survey science calls faking. When it comes to stupid issues like this I promise the faking is significant. Judging by the venomous smear campaigns over the last several years by the media and the left, little ethics are in sight to stop them.

One could say Republicans do that too, though it is obvious true as they are people just like Democrats (though many Democrats would disagree), the capacity for sophistry and especially the interest to do so isn’t high enough for it to make much difference. Besides, most of them are worried about getting in trouble with God for doing so - a redeeming quality of theism, you have to admit.

However, when the stakes are high, the polls tend to be a little more accurate because a far greater number of diverse responders participate. The birth certificate thing was so stupid, no one I know (who are Republican or Democrat) believed Obama was not a U.S. citizen - and they didn't bother participating or voting on-line either.

Still, no one knows how much faking exists. I don't believe 25% of Democrats think that W let 9/11 happen. Then again, three times that number believe Obamacare is a good thing.

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