(This means running with a flawed premise: that the Republicans who
left their party and became independents are equally likely to question
Obama's citizenship as all other independents. It also ignores the
notion that party affiliations are more fluid than 21 percent of
Republicans simply bolting for independence, as a chunk--without some
becoming Democrats, and without the GOP picking up some new members as
According to a mathematical expansion on today's pool of GOP
respondents, the 2006 results among Republicans on the question "Do you
believe Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?"
would have gone as follows:
R2000 results educated guess at 2006 results
Yes 42% 51%
No 28% 24%
Not sure 30% 25%
More than half would have said Obama was born in the U.S...but the coalition of doubters would still be strong, even with the old members of the GOP base counted in.
(Maybe we should assume that former Republicans are more likely to
question Obama's birthplace than the rest of the independent field, and intentionally skew the independent effect here; maybe not.)
Since today's poll made such a splash, it'll be interesting to see if
anyone else polls on the same question, both to see if Research 2000's
results were a fluke, and to see how the birther "dialogue" is
going--whether suspicions of foreignness have subsided. Major polling
firms could, conceivably, include birtherism with other current-events
questions in weekly surveys.
The established media is wholly against the essence of these citizenship doubts,
and respected journalists freely refer to birtherism as racist. But, at
the same time, everyone's rubber-necking. 42 percent of Republicans seems so low--can it be right?
Maybe a poll on this issue only fosters birtherism, in the same fashion that Conor Clarke has suggested polls can do with all public matters.
Maybe we can track birtheristic sentiment along with Obama's
favorability and approval as his presidency goes on...Do you like
President Obama? Do you approve of his job as president? Do you think
he was born here?...at that point, things will have truly gone weird.
Whether more news happens around birtherism will depend on how weird
we're all willing to get.
*Given the 28 percent ID in 2006, and the 22 percent ID today, we can
conclude that a proportioned GOP sample size would be 670, not 527, by
multiplying the 527 sample size by 28/22 (the percent change in the
size of the GOP's base). 143 of which would be independents. From those numbers, we can derive weights
for the GOP and independent percentage results in today's poll--weighting the independents at .2134 and the current-day Republicans at .7866--and can produce percentages for a purported 2006 survey.