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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 05/07/2010

Sizing up the "birthers"

Asked an open-ended question about where President Obama was born, 14 percent of Americans say he was born abroad - giving an incorrect answer that shows how widespread the misunderstanding of his birthplace is nearly a year and a half into his presidency.

Fully 68 percent of those surveyed in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll say, unprompted, that he was born in the United States, including 48 percent who accurately cite Hawaii. Another 9 percent say it's their "best guess" that he was born in this country, bringing the total saying he is U.S.-born to 77 percent.

Obama made light of the fuss over his nativity last week at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Broad majorities across party lines volunteer that Obama was born in the U.S., although substantial numbers in some groups say he wasn't. In addition to the 14 percent who volunteer that he was born in another country, another 6 percent say that's their best guess. Overall, about a third of Republicans and conservatives say Obama was born in another country, or call it their best guess. Asked how firmly they hold this belief, most say they see his being born outside the country as their "suspicion only."

About a third of all those who say Obama might have been born in another country approve of how he's handling his job as president, hold favorable views of him personally and prefer him over congressional Republicans when it comes to dealing with issue No.1, the economy.

Some 9 percent see "solid evidence" that Obama was born elsewhere, a figure that peaks at 17 percent among those who consider themselves to be ideologically "very conservative."

Q: On another subject, where was Barack Obama born, as far as you know?

United States NET                  68
 Honolulu/Hawaii                   48
 America/U.S. (other specific)      8
 America/U.S. (general)            12
Another country NET                14
 Kenya                              3
 Africa (other)                     4
 Other (specific)                   3
 Other (general)                    4
No opinion                         19

Q: (IF DON'T KNOW) Is it your best guess that Obama was born in the United States, or in another country?

NET table
         ---United States---      --- Other country ---     
                         Best                     Best    No
         NET   Initial   guess    NET   Initial   guess  opin.
4/25/10  77      68        9      20      14        6      3

Q: (IF ANOTHER COUNTRY)(Do you think there's been solid evidence of that), or (is that your suspicion only)?

NET table
                    ------- Other country -------     
                           Solid    Suspicion  No      No
              U.S.  NET   evidence    only    opin.  opinion
All adults    77    20       9         10       1       3 

Democrats     83    15       6          7       1       2
Republicans   65    31      11         19       *       4
Independents  79    18       9          9       1       3

Liberals      87    12       5          6       *       1
Moderates     82    16       7          8       *       2
Smwt consrvs. 68    27      11         14       2       5
Very consrvs. 59    36      17         20       0       5

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 05/07/2010

Categories:  Post Polls, Post Polls

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