A new CNN poll out yesterday had some fascinating numbers on the question of where President Barack Obama was born, and it’s clear that Obama has not put the “birther” issue to bed. While the results of the poll are reported as a repudiation of “birthers,” that’s not the case here.
Over five days between July16-21, CNN had Opinion Research Corp. survey 1,018 adults – with a sample of 335 Democrats, 398 independents and 285 Republicans, which is a relatively favorable sample for Obama – and asked this simple question: Do you think Barack Obama was definitely born in the United States, probably born in the United States, probably born in another country, or definitely born in another country?
The largest group of respondents said he was definitely born in the U.S. – but that number was just 42 percent. A “probably” born in the U.S. is tantamount to an admission the respondent has some doubt whether his presidency is legitimate, and 29 percent fell in that category. Some 16 percent said he was probably born somewhere else, while 11 percent qualify as true “birthers,” convinced he’s Kenyan or something.
The “definitely born in the U.S.” group is bolstered by a 64 percent number among Democrats – but even among Dems 15 percent believe he was probably or definitely born elsewhere.
But here’s the thing – while the Obama administration has sold the “birther” controversy as something cooked up by Republican hacks (despite the fact that the first major attempt to bring the issue to light was a lawsuit by Pennsylvania Democrat operative Philip Berg), the CNN poll shows some similarity between independents and Republicans on this issue. Among independents, 37 percent believe Obama was definitely born here, while 23 percent of Republicans agree. Among the “probablies,” independents number 31 percent while there are 34 percent of Republicans who say yes. Some 27 percent of Republicans are “probably nots,” as are 17 percent of independents. And some 14 percent of Republicans are true “birthers,” while 12 percent of independents fall into that category.
Given the fundamental nature of this issue to Obama’s presidency, a year and a half into the administration these are very weak numbers, and they reflect a poor overall poll climate for the president. Gallup released a survey Tuesday which had his approval rating all the way down to 41 percent, the lowest yet. Rasmussen reports his approval index sits at -14, which is a better number than he’s had in the last couple of weeks, but still has his overall approval rating at just 46 percent (42 percent of the respondents say they strongly disapprove of Obama).
Those lousy polls led Dick Morris to write today…
As we suggested in our recent column, the new Gallup/USA Today poll confirms that Obama’s ratings have collapsed as a result of the WikiLeaks release of Afghan War memos. Down from 46% in the most recent poll, Obama’s job approval has plunged to 41% — the lowest it has ever been in any major poll.
Democrats have now joined in the defection from Obama impelled by their increasing anger over his continued involvement in Afghanistan and the emerging double dip in the recession. Support for his war policies there has dropped to 38% from 46% in February while approval of his handling of the economy has plunged to 39%.
Elected as a peace and jobs candidate, the defections over these two issues among his base are likely to be especially injurious in the 2010 Congressional elections. The generic Republican v Democratic ballot now shows an eight point GOP lead according to Rasmussen Reports.
We have recently reviewed polls for five Republican House challengers to Democratic incumbents in Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia, and New York and were shocked to see the Republicans leading in each. Normally, one would consider GOP chances excellent if the challenger were able to hold the incumbent to under 50% of the vote, since the undecided almost always goes entirely for the challenger. But to actually show leads at this point is incredible.
If Obama’s policies weren’t so unpopular, the American people wouldn’t likely be interested in “birther” questions. But when the president time and time again promotes government actions despised by a wide majority of the country, policies which can in etymologically-correct terms be described as “anti-American,” you get respected columnists pointing out something far more on point than the “birther” question, though it’s related – the fact that Obama is culturally not an American. He spends his time trashing the foreign policy of his predecessors. He appoints radicals who don’t care for our traditions. He assaults time-honored institutions. He takes a rather dim view of the individual aspirations of our people. His treatment of those who disagree, which violates a practice of attempting to “disagree without being disagreeable” our leaders have at least attempted to adhere to most of the time, resembles more of a Third World attitude.
And so on.
When the First Lady takes an extravagant holiday in Spain amid constant stories of mingling with celebrities, golfing trips, top-dollar nights out on Broadway and elegant nightly White House soirees in the midst of a sharp recession, it only makes things worse.
While we’re not birthers here at The Hayride, we think Obama has handled the controversy poorly – as though he has something to hide. We also think the birther controversy is going to grow, rather than diminish, over time as more Americans feel uncomfortable with the perception that this president doesn’t like us, doesn’t identify with us, doesn’t share our view of America as an exceptional place. It’s easy to believe all kinds of terrible things about people who speak ill of you. And the fact that after a year and a half of public opinion and political activism demonstrating clearly its desire to reel the president in to the American mainstream there has been little evidence of accountability on Obama’s part, it seems as though a hard fall will be coming for this president.