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Surrounded by birthers

surrounded

The allusion to the movie Spaceballs aside, a new study from Fairleigh Dickinson University found birther beliefs in surprising numbers, especially among Republicans.

The most popular of these conspiracy theories is the belief that President Obama is hiding important information about his background and early life, which would include what’s often referred to “birtherism.” Thirty-six percent of Americans think this is probably true, including 64 percent of Republicans and 14 percent of Democrats.

Sixty-three percent of registered voters in the U.S. buy into at least one political conspiracy theory

It’s not just birthers in the study. They also added in 9/11 conspiracies, and beliefs that the 2004 and 2012 elections were stolen.

The study also asked 4 “current events” questions. There was a very strong negative correlation between the number of questions answered correctly and belief in birtherism. The survey was taken December 10-16, 2012, and involved 814 registered voters. The sampling error was 3.4%.

It is disheartening, to say the least, that so many of my fellow countrymen buy into conspiracy theories, particularly the wildly implausible ones of birtherism and 9/11. Maybe we can blame it on the Internet. Romney complained about the 47% that he believed were takers. I worry about the 63% who are the intellectual takers, lying on a minority to keep the world sane.

WorldNetDaily: Majority of readers say Obama eligibility a vital issue

In an article by Bub Unruh published yesterday at WorldNetDaily, a reader poll was included asking: “Is the question of Obama’s eligibility a dead issue?”

One must have an account and login at WorldNetDaily to vote in their polls, so these 874 respondents might be considered the “hard core” WND types. Essentially 100% (all but 5) said it was not a dead issue. The most popular answer (58%) said:

No, this is a question of vital constitutional significance – we ignore it at our peril

I left this comment:

The reader poll is a hoot. It says a lot about WorldNetDaily when essentially 100% of the respondents supported a nut-case conspiracy theory. Yes folks, the bottom of the barrel is right here.

Birther Déjà vu in secessionist movement

“It’s déjà vu all over again.”

The Huffington Post/YouGov poll on US secession sentiment came out today. Secessionists are in the minority, but the numbers are literally crazy. There are secession polls in all 50 states, and of those polled by YouGov:

Over half opposed seeing their state secede, with 42 percent strongly opposing the idea, while 22 percent said they supported the idea. A quarter weren’t sure.

Those sound a lot like birther numbers to me. In a rather counterfactual opinion, 20% said that it was very likely that a majority in their state would vote to secede. I am on the YouGov panel, but I wasn’t one of the 1,000 adults queried on this question.

Not surprisingly, it’s largely the Republicans who want to leave the Union, twice as many males as females, and highest among those 65 years of age or older.

There was a slight bias against Texas in the poll. Nationwide 22.8% supported secession for their state, 29% said that states should have the right to secede, but 31.6% said that Texas should be allowed to go.

So what happens if all 50 states secede? I guess the Taliban takes over.

Peter Kellner: Why polls differ

In late September, the buzz was a theory that polls were massively skewed towards Obama because they failed to poll equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. One web site, UnSkewedPolls.com continues to publish results showing Romney way ahead using its own method of adjustment to compensate for the fact that most folks consider themselves Democrats.

Poll chart showing Obama ahead by 2 pointsIn a major article, “Obama stays ahead – just”, at YouGov.com, Peter Kellner talks about the issue of adjusting polling samples for demographics and party affiliation, and he discusses in some detail why the YouGov polls differ from most national polls, and in particular why YouGov didn’t show a huge swing towards Romney after the first Presidential Debate, a much different result from other polls.

YouGov’s methodology differs from other pollsters in that they have a large panel of individuals that they have tracked over time. A typical telephone poll, for example, asks if you are registered to vote and takes your word for it. YouGov has checked public records and knows for sure whether 150,000 members of its panel are registered to vote.

It’s a substantial article and I won’t try to summarize it here. If you’re a polling junky, check it out.

Today the YouGov Vote Intention poll stands at 48% Obama and 46% Romney.

Polling is important in the face of the ramp-up of conspiracy theories, for example at WorldNetDaily, predicting massive voter fraud and results tampering in the upcoming election.

What effect will birthers have on the 2012 election?

I don’t think that there is any questioning the fact that birtherism is “out there.” If anyone in public life tells a remotely birther-related joke, it’s all over the news feeds and the social media. Just look at the scrolling Twitter messages in the right sidebar dealing with Obama’s birther joke in New Hampshire yesterday.

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The question that I have, and for which I have no good data upon which to form an opinion, is what if any impact beliefs about the President’s birthplace will have on the 2012 election.

It’s easy to say that the people who are birthers wouldn’t vote for Obama anyway. There seems to be a correlation between foreign-birth beliefs and other ideas such as Obama being a Muslim, a communist, a disbarred lawyer, or an identity thief. Still, polls show that a fair number of Democrats and independents believe the conspiracy theories in addition to a plurality of Republicans.

Does this issue inspire campaign giving? Does it motivate people to vote? Does it make up some people’s minds who would otherwise vote another way? I think that it is an important question to ask at this stage of the development of Internet political culture whether conspiracy theories can make a difference in “real live” and in the outcome of the 2012 election.

Indiana poll

It’s been a while since I did a reader poll. This one asks why, in your opinion, will the two causes of action, declaratory relief and permanent injunction in Taitz v. Elections Commission, against the Indiana Secretary of State and the State Elections Commission be dismissed by Judge S. K. Reid. The poll ends at 10 AM EDT, October 22, 2012.

For background, see my article: “Indiana moves to dismiss: full text.”

Reason for dismissal:

  • all of the above (45%, 41 Votes)
  • lack of subject matter jurisdiction (22%, 20 Votes)
  • the case will not be dismissed (12%, 11 Votes)
  • res judicata and/or collateral estoppel (9%, 8 Votes)
  • as a sanction for violating court rules and orders (5%, 5 Votes)
  • other reason (leave a comment) (4%, 4 Votes)
  • failure to state a claim (3%, 3 Votes)
  • failure to file tort claims notice (0%, 0 Votes)
  • sovereign immunity (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 92

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