By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Almost one in four Republicans suspect that Barack Obama is the Antichrist. That's one of the most astounding findings from a notably stunning new online poll from Harris Interactive. Majorities of Republicans also believe that Obama is a socialist (67 percent), that he wants to take away Americans' guns (61 percent), is a Muslim (57 percent), has done "many" things that are not constitutional (55 percent), and wants to turn the country over to a one world government (51 percent).
In fairness to the GOP the poll indicates that the country generally seems to have become a bit unhinged. Overall, 40 percent of Americans think Obama's a socialist, 32 percent think he's a Muslim, and one in four think that "he is a domestic enemy that the U.S. Constitution speaks of."
As the noted small businessman and family values maven Norman Bates once said, we all go a little mad sometimes.
But it's clear that the right wing is the anchor that's pulling the country toward loonyville in this data set. Forty-five percent of Republicans are birthers (they think that Obama is not a natural born American citizen), according to the survey (as opposed to 25 percent of all Americans); 45 percent think that he's a "domestic enemy"; and 41 percent think that he's itching to "use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers" (a mere 23 percent generally so believe). If you think that sounds suspiciously like something Hitler might do, you're not alone: 38 percent of Republicans think Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did" (20 percent of Americans overall think so).
Twenty-two percent of Republicans think "he wants the terrorists to win," as opposed to 13 percent of Americans generally. And as I mentioned at the top, 24 percent of Republicans believe that "he may be the Antichrist" (there's even a youtube video on the topic), a belief held by 14 percent of Americans total.
Step back a moment and ponder that figure. Fourteen percent of Americans think not that the president has bad ideas, or is a bad person, but that he is a supernatural personification of evil who will do battle with Jesus Christ in the final days. Wow.
It will come as no surprise that there is an inverse relationship between education and nutty beliefs about the president. Forty-five percent of those without a high school education, for example, believe that Obama is a socialist, while only 20 percent of those with postgraduate education so believe.
And while there is a fairly close affinity between what conservatives believe and what Republicans believe, and what liberals believe and what Democrats believe (they are, not surprisingly, the most sympathetic to the president), Independents tend to believe more ill of the president than do moderates. So, for example, 30 percent of moderates call Obama a socialist, whereas 42 percent of Independents do. One possible explanation: self-described Independents include a large dose of conservatives still disaffected with the GOP.
Having said all that, a couple of caveats and complaints that have come out about the poll: First the questions are loaded, and second it was taken online, which is a controversial technique. (For more, see this Newsbusters piece.) So take it with whatever size piece of salt you see fit.
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