A recent poll reports that a majority of Republicans believe that President Obama is withholding information about his background. In the PublicMind poll conducted by Fairleigh-Dickinson University professors found that 64 percent of the Republicans surveyed believe that Obama is hiding information about his early life. Though “birther” campaigns lost momentum when the president made his birth certificate public in 2011, there are still those who doubt the president’s status as an American-born citizen.
“This conspiracy theory is much more widely believed mostly because it’s been discussed so often,” political science professor and poll analyst Dan Cassino theorized in the poll report. “People tend to believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire – so the more smoke they see, the more likely they are to believe that something is going on.
A similar poll conducted by Gallup in 2011 showed that only 23 percent of Republicans doubted Obama’s birth record, a much smaller figure. The sudden rise in belief could be tied to the more recent presidential election.
“Americans tend to be politically isolated, and some can’t fathom that there are people who actually voted for the other guy, so the only way he could have won is through cheating,” Cassino concludes.
The poll focused in on several political conspiracy theories, including the possibility of voter fraud in the 2004 and 2012 elections, and that the government knew about 9/11 in advance. Of all the registered voters polled, 63 percent of them subscribed to at least one conspiracy theory. Republicans led the way with three in four GOP voters supporting one or more of the theories.
According to the data, the belief in conspiracy theories is directly tied to education and awareness of current events. Respondents with a greater knowledge of current events or higher level of education were less likely to believe in the theories.
Also, three in four of the African-Americans polled were more invested in conspiracy, 12 percent more than their white counterparts. Cassino suggests that the high rates are tied to a lack of involvement in the politics, leading to a lack of faith in the government.
“These figures tell us more about a lack of trust in the political process than acceptance of particular conspiracies,” he wrote.