Election day is near, and from the looks of Google search trends, people are taking the opportunity to check whether Barack Obama is Muslim, socialist, or a citizen, although not nearly as many as in the 2008 election. The y-axis of the graph represents peak search volume. As Obama entered the national scene, Google saw a lot of activity for "Obama Muslim," and as the 2008 election neared, first in the Democratic primary in February and then the general election in November other terms, like "Obama socialist" and "Obama citizen" started to peak, too. "Obama Muslim" went up again in August 2010, around the time debates ignited over the Muslim cultural center in downtown New York.
Philip N. Cohen, a University of Maryland professor, blogged at Sociological Images that the relative lack of searches during Obama's presidency suggests "Obama as an actual president has softened up the hard-line hatred in some quarters." Indeed, searches for these terms have not risen to the same levels as they did in 2008. But the searches are rising from their usual murmur again—hold-outs could be checking up on those conspiracy theories just one more time before voting.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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