The National Review's John Fund was surprised by this finding and the overall result that less than half of respondents said Obama loves the nation he leads. He wrote Wednesday:
"I thought Giuliani’s comments inappropriate, but the White House should be concerned to the extent their own signaling and policies have led to such a result. It is indeed hard to imagine similar results for any modern president."
The poll's level of agreement with Giuliani's sentiment may be surprising when compared with the small share of Republican leaders who have spoken up to defend the former mayor's comments, let alone agree with them. But, agreeing in private with mean things someone says about a politician you deeply dislike -- 69 percent of Republicans "strongly disapproved" of Obama in a January Post-ABC poll -- is different than saying them yourself in public. Even in the conciliatory wake of the 2008 election, 48 percent of Republicans polled by the Pew Research Center said Obama was "not patriotic."
Another bit of polling offers a clue to this mindset. In 2010 the Post and ABC News conducted a poll asking a factual question: where they thought Obama was born. Most people (correctly) said the United States, but 20 percent of the public and 31 percent of Republicans said he was born in another country. Publicly questioning Obama’s birthplace was all the rage among conservatives at the time, and Republicans apparently picked up on the trend.
But when skeptics of Obama's birthplace were asked in a follow-up question whether there was “solid evidence” that Obama was born in another country or whether this was their “suspicion only,” just 9 percent of adults and 11 percent of Republicans said there was solid evidence. Most Republicans who initially questioned Obama’s birthplace admitted they were only suspicious of this. That suspicion was based not on facts but largely because he’s a deeply distrusted member of the opposite party.
In reporting the YouGov poll, the Huffington Post acknowledges it is "not particularly hard for pollsters to convince people to question the sincerity of their political opponents." They found respondents were equally likely to report a favorable opinion of Obama as say he loves his country.
That's correct. So how many Americans actually believe Obama doesn’t love America? It could be a sizable number, but given much of the public will lean toward whatever positive or negative attribute is offered, asking directly is a very fraught way to measure it.
So, don’t be surprised when you see a similar result again.