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Obama polls: half full or half empty

Anti-Obama sites say that the country hates Obama and is sorry they elected him. They say that his approval rating is falling sharply. Birther Report cites a story from the Washington Examiner, and inserted one of its trademark bogus headlines:

Poll: 71% of Obama voters, 55% Democrats ‘regret’ voting for his re-election

Because of some errors in the original reporting of that story, Birther Report may not have intentionally misrepresented the data, but it’s misrepresented all the same. Actually 71% of the 10% who said they wouldn’t vote for Obama if they had it to do over said they regretted their vote, and that looks like 7.1%, not 71%. Romney voters are more confident about their 2012 choice, but then Romney hasn’t been president for them to judge.

Even with good data, the result can be spun half full/half empty. The Examiner story was titled: “Poll: Only 79% of Obama voters would vote for him again,” but an equally true headline would be: “Poll: Only 10% of Obama voters would change their votes now.” The difference is in where you put the 11% undecided.

The research was done by YouGov.com (a group I volunteer for), and it’s presented in the context of how well Romney might do in a 2016 run for President. Their conclusion is that Romney is no more popular than he was just before the election.

Believe it or not, there are still birther polls. YouGov surveyed 1000 US  adults between February 8-10. Given only the two choices, 62% say they believe it’s true that Obama was born in the US (and 38% say it’s false). Interestingly, 25% responded that people who say Obama was born outside the US don’t really believe it and are saying it just because they don’t like Obama. The hard core birthers, the ones that are sure Obama was not born in the US, were 15% of the sample. 6% said Obama’s Presidential Library should located be in Kenya.

What might be considered a striking success for birthers, though, is that a whopping 70% say that presidential candidates should be required to show their birth certificates to get on the ballot! Obama was way ahead of the curve on that one, releasing his in mid 2008.

As to Obama’s approval rating, a Washington PostABC poll before the State of the Union showed the President with a 44% approval rating (50% disapproval). That’s up 2 points since November.

Help us Mitt Romney; you’re our only hope

This article is in my “only hope” series:

Yes, once again a birther puts forward a vain hope to dislodge the President through legal action, this time in the person of Montgomery Blair Sibley. The occasion is the rejection of his appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in his case Sibley v. Obama. The Court declined to delve into the matter Sibley raised, saying as so many courts before have said (going all the way back to Phil Berg’s 2008 case), the birther lacks standing, and in this case: Sibley’s “‘self declaration as a write-in candidate’ does not confer Article III standing….”

The inference drawn by Sibley is that Mitt Romney, who was in every sense a real candidate with a specific personal stake in the outcome of the 2012 election, does have standing. So Sibley has issued a public letter to Mitt Romney (which saves him the 46 cents for a postage stamp I guess), putting forward various conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, saying that the federal judiciary has failed in their duty, and asking for a 30 minute interview with Romney in which to present his case. (I thought folks were only allotted 15 minutes of fame.)

There are several problems with Sibley’s scenario. Individual harm from the outcome of the election does not alone confer standing on a candidate; a further requirement is that the court have the power to redress the alleged wrong and no court has the power to remove the President; only the Congress may do that. Romney has more sense than to get involved with birther nuttery anyway and finally, Obama is eligible in the first place, something that is well established, fully certified, and plainly obvious to everyone except the birthers.

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.

Barack Obama born in Kenya: New authentic photograph proves

No elephants this time. A photograph has surfaced on the Internet on mainstream sites like MSN and The Huffington Post showing newborn Barack Obama in Kenya near Kogelo village (where President Obama’s step-grandmother lives to this day).

I believe the photo is authentic, showing Barack Obama, just hours old, with his mother at the hospital in Kenya. This is shocking enough, but the rest of the story is even more bizarre.

Did birthers cost Mitt Romney the election?

I don’t think anyone will ever definitively answer that question, but I think it deserves to be asked.

Over the last two and a half years there’s been an effort to go at me in a way that is politically expedient in the short term for Republicans, but creates I think a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election where most feel pretty confident the President was born where he says he was, in Hawaii.

Barack Obama
ABC News interview

The Republican Party I think owns the big issues of the day. We ought to be bold. We ought to be confident. If we spent as much time talking about solutions in the future as we did the president’s birth certificate, for heaven sake, we probably would have won the darn election.

Jon Huntsman, Republican Presidential Primary Candidate
CNN  Interview

Observation #1: Lots of people know what “birthers” are. Certainly not everyone is a “birther junkie” like folks here or at The Fogbow, or at the other fine birther-skewering web sites, but they know about them. Obama always gets a big laugh when he cracks a birther joke. Even after the election Rachel Maddow on MSNBC thought it worth repeating after the 2012 election, “he really was born in Hawaii” on her show last evening.

Observation #2: Donald Trump created a storm of negative publicity with his forays into birtherism, because he is in many quarters a roundly disliked figure, a poster child for why there should be a higher taxes on the rich. Trump  was a very visible supporter of Romney.

Observation #3: At least for some, birtherism has energized support for Obama. I can speak only for myself, but I gave Obama for America a big multiple of the contribution I gave in 2008 because I didn’t want the birthers to have the satisfaction of a win.

Observation #4: GOP leaders such as Karl Rove and Senator Lindsey Graham have spoken against birthers, saying that they hurt the Party. Rove once called the birth certificate “Barack Obama’s trap.” Graham said: “Here’s what the Republican Party has to do… We have to say that’s crazy. So I’m here to tell you that those who think the President was born somewhere other than Hawaii are crazy…. Let’s knock this crap off and talk about the real issues.”

Observation #5: Birthers have become a byword for nut case conspiracy theorist among the population, including becoming (unfairly or not) a synonym for racist. Every time a birther supports Romney, an independent voter saw a nut job associated with the Republican side.

The birthers, the rape denialists, the Donald, the climate change cranks, the homophobes and all the rest tarnished the Republican brand. Birthers and the rest may well have cost Romney the presidency in 2012.

Read more:

Birther activist joins Romney press cohort

Rachel Maddow did a wonderful segment on her program about what she calls the “conservative media bubble” and attributes such in-bred thinking for Mitt Romney’s major debate gaffe disbelieving Obama when he said that he lad labeled the Libya embassy attack an “act of terror” the day after it happened.  She talked about conservatives holding to contrafactual views because it makes them feel comfortable. The segment was titled “Right-wing truthers lead Romney to debate disaster.”

The lead in was the appearance of Where’s the Real Birth Certificate author Jerome Corsi as part of the accredited press corps traveling with the Romney campaign. Maddow barely scratches the surface of available examples of the nuttiness of Corsi and the online tabloid web site he works for, WorldNetDaily. Politico.com’s Dylan Byers broke the story and did a feature on the Corsi appearance on the Romney plane. I’ll be interested to see what if anything the Romney Campaign does in response to these news stories: defend the freedom of the press, or throw Corsi under the bus out the emergency exit without a parachute.

We see the same insular news sources in birtherism all the time, where they actually believe that Sheriff Arpaio conducted a real police investigation, that everybody was taught in Civics class that US Presidents must have citizen parents, Ann Dunham posed nude for Frank Marshall Davis in 1960, and that Obama stole the social-security number of a guy born in Connecticut in 1890.

Maddow made the quote of the day when she said:

Do not confuse your WorldNetDaily-caliber conservative therapeutic alternative reality fantasy babble for what actually happened.

Of course, debate gaffe’s are not all that important in my book. What is important is that those who actually govern us (not to be confused with political candidates) do so based on the best available facts, and not what they tell each other.

Here’s the video from Maddow’s show:

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