28% of Republicans Do Not Believe That Obama Is A Citizen (Updated)
When I wrote my satire of the Birthers last week, I assumed that the folks who seriously believe that Barack Obama is not a citizen was merely a small, but loud fringe with a large web presence. So imagine my surprise when I saw this poll, which indicates that the numbers are worse than I realized:
A forthcoming DailyKos/Research 2000 poll found 77% of Americans believe President Obama was born in the United States, 11% do not, and 12% are not sure.
Among Republicans only, 42% think he’s an American citizen, 28% do not, and 30% are not sure.
If those numbers are accurate (and the DailyKos/Research 2000 polls aggregate in line with other major polls, so there’s no reason to immediately question the numbers), then this is a much more serious problem. As my colleague Dodd pointed out earlier this week, if less than half of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is a citizen, that makes it much more difficult for the Republican Party to put forth reasonable debate and opposition against the Democrats and craft sound policy proposals.
You just can’t focus on policywhen 1/3 of your base wants you to focus on the crazy. You can’t craft sound bipartisan legislation by working with the President when a photo-op with him risks you votes in the primaries becaue 1/3 of your constituency doesn’t want you “working with foreigners” and thinks that the President doesn’t belong there.
Kudos to Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and the other conservative pundits out there who’ve been willing to decry the birthers. Hopefully more will follow suit.
(link via Matthew Yglesias)
Update (Alex Knapp)
A number of people have asked in the comments why this issue can derail Republican legislation as opposed to say, belief in UFOs. Well, simple: it matters because if you have a significant portion of the people who cast ballots in Republican primaries who are passionate and passionately believe that Obama’s Presidency is illegitmate, that is going to dominate the local discussions of politics and it’s going to make it difficult for Republicans who want to be re-elected to just dismiss. Observe this in action: