Trying to keep pace with the stupid ways of some politicians, some American voters have shown that the greatest threat to democracy is not extremism or a lack of bipartisanship, but ignorance.
Since 2008, the number of American voters who believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim has risen from 12% to 17%. The good news is that the 2012 figure is 2% lower than 2010 when 19% of Americans suspended reality to believe that Obama is Muslim.
When a person is elected to the presidency, we are supposed to learn more about that person. Instead, over one in six Americans dive into the cesspool of ignorance. These are the undeniable results from a new Pew Research Center survey.
Those who believe that Obama is a Christian have gone from 55% to 38% to 49% from 2008 to 2012. Amazingly, a huge number of Americans just don’t know the President’s professed religious beliefs. Those numbers have gone from 31% to 41% to 31%.
That is correct. Back in 2010, more Americans were unsure of Obama’s religion than believed he was a Christian. This was two years into his presidency. Nearly four years into his presidency and not even half of the American electorate believe Obama is a Christian.
Haven’t the majority of Americans noticed that when Obama gives a speech he almost always ends it with “God bless America?” He doesn’t say “Allah bless America.”
There is a definite partisan slant to this belief. The Muslim belief is shared by 30% of Republicans, primarily conservative Republicans. The number of independents who lean Republican but believe Obama is a Muslim rests at 23%. Only 9% of independents who lean Democratic believe that. That parallels those who identify themselves as Democrats. Only 8% of Democrats believe that Obama is a Muslim.
Compare this with Romney’s Mormonism, and the contrast is disturbing. Those who don’t know Romney’s religion has steadily declined since 2008 from 44% to 35% to 32%. While that roughly equates with Obama, Americans should know Obama better since he is the president. On the plus side for Romney, voter awareness that he is a Mormon has risen from 48% to 58% to 60%.
In mid-2012, 60% of the voters know that Romney is a Mormon, but only 48% know that Obama is a Christian. If voters can’t figure out these relatively simple facts, how are they going to understand deeper issues on the economy, deficit or foreign policy?
In general, Americans are okay that Romney is a Mormon by a 41% to 13% margin. The rest are undecided since they don’t know his religion. Those numbers cut just about evenly across party lines.
Obama’s religion is okay with voters by a similar number — 45% to 19%. That might seem strange since so many consider Obama a Muslim. That is explained by the deep partisan divide on acceptance of Obama’s religious beliefs. For Democrats, 61% are comfortable with just 7% uncomfortable with the President’s religion. However, a plurality of Republicans are uncomfortable with Obama’s religion by 36% to 27%. More Republicans are uncomfortable with Obama’s religion than believe that he is a Muslim. Only slightly more than one in four Republicans, who are overwhelmingly Christian, are comfortable that Obama is a Christian.
It just doesn’t make sense unless political beliefs are used as the measure to shade reality. It is scary that so many Americans willingly ignore the truth so as to make it conform to their political beliefs. Many voters oppose Obama on ideological grounds. It appears that in order to help justify those beliefs some Americans are ready to believe that Obama is something other than he is. This isn’t the way to run a democracy.