Months ago, when scattered polls, some sponsored by liberal groups, found a shocking high number of Republicans expressing belief that President Obama was born abroad, conservatives and many in the media mocked them as surely biased. Now a series of surveys from top national polling firms, such as Gallup, have confirmed the earlier findings.
But still, the Washington Post’s “Behind the Numbers” blog downplayed the results today of its own poll (done with ABC). At least Chris Cillizza at his The Fix blog at the same site played it more accurately, to a point. Dave Weigel, who covers the right for the paper, points out that 31% of tea part y supporters hold the Birther view (the same number of Republicans, as if that needs to be pointed out).
The raw numbers: Nearly one in three GOPers (31%) believe Obama was born “in another country.” The same figure for Democrats is 15% and among Independents 18%. The number for those who describe themselves as “very conservative” is 36%. Of that segment 17% claim they have “solid evidence” for his birth abroad.
But Jon Cohen at Behind the Numbers attributes this all to a “misunderstanding,” not ignorance, bias, political or media manipulation, or, in part, racism. He emphasizes that overall 77% do not endorse this view, noting, “Broad majorities across party lines volunteer that Obama was born in the U.S., although substantial numbers in some groups say he wasn’t..” He buries the 1 in 3 finding for all Republicans way down in his report.
Cillizza does better at his blog, highlighting the GOP finding in his first graf , although he calls this, rather gently, “not entirely insignificant.” In the third graf—revealing how significant it actually is—he still needs to state that it is “indisputable” that Obama was born in Hawaii. This is 16 months into his presidency.
He also gives GOP leaders the benefit of a doubt by declaring that they have “done everything they can to downplay” the Birther “chatter.”