Poll: Most Republicans Doubt Obama's Citizenship, As Birtherism Becomes a Screen for Ideology

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 15 2011 11:06 AM

Poll: Most Republicans Doubt Obama's Citizenship, As Birtherism Becomes a Screen for Ideology

The non-partisan-but-usually-hired-by-Democrats firm Public Policy Polling is out with more data on what Republicans -- well, 400 "Republican primary voters nationwide" -- think about Barack Obama's citizenship. They have their doubts!

A 51% majority of national GOP primary voters erroneously think President Obama was not born in the U.S. 28% know that he was.


Another way of putting this is slightly more than one in four Republicans believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States. Does that mean that 72 percent of Republicans think Obama should be disqualified from the presidency? No. It suggests that birtherism has become another screen for extreme partisanship. Look at the number I've broken out to the top right of the page. The Republicans who are most convinced that Obama was born in the United States are cool to Sarah Palin, with only 41 percent seeing her favorably. The Republicans who don't think he was born here have an 83 percent favorable view of Palin. The numbers aren't as intense for other candidates, but the mostly pattern holds -- the more you doubt Obama's citizenship, the better you like Republicans. Birthers have a 59/19 favorable view of Gingrich; non-birthers are at 46/40. Birthers have a 64/12 favorable view of Huckabee; for non-birthers it's 50/20.

This doesn't occur in a vacuum. Palin and Gingrich, more than other Republicans, have criticized Obama for policies they trace back to a lack of faith in America and its institutions. (It was Gingrich , remember, who promoted Dinesh D'Souza's silly "Obama as Kenyan anti-colonialist" theory.) Birtherism, in this instance, is a logical response to the stimuli of 1) conservative opinion leaders saying that Obama's policies amount to un-American socialism and 2) Republican leaders punting when asked whether Obama was born in the United States.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.