A large minorities of Americans hold some remarkable opinions
A new book, Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America by John Avlon describes the large numbers of Americans who hold extreme views of President Obama. This Harris Poll seeks to measure how many people are involved. It finds that 40% of adults believe he is a socialist. More than 30% think he wants to take away Americans' right to own guns and that he is a Muslim. More than 25% believe he wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a world government, has done many things that are unconstitutional, that he resents America's heritage, and that he does what Wall Street tells him to do.
More than 20% believe he was not born in the United States, that he is "the domestic enemy the U.S. Constitution speaks of," that he is racist and anti-American, and that he "wants to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers." Fully 20% think he is "doing many of the things that Hitler did," while 14% believe "he may be the anti-Christ" and 13% think "he wants the terrorists to win."
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,320 adults surveyed online between March 1 and 8, 2010 by Harris Interactive.
The actual percentages of adults who believe these things are true are as follows:
What Republicans, Democrats and Independents think
There are – no surprise here – huge differences between what Republicans and Democrats believe. Majorities of Republicans believe that President Obama:
Also large numbers of Republicans also believe that President Obama:
Even more remarkable perhaps, fully 24% of Republicans believe that "he may be the Anti-Christ" and 22% believe "he wants the terrorists to win."
While few Democrats believe any of these things, the proportions of Independents who do so are close to the national averages.
One big surprise is that many more Republicans (40%) than Democrats (15%) believe the president does what Wall Street and the bankers tell him to do.
Differences by education
These replies are also strongly correlated with education. The less education people have had the more likely they are to believe all of these statements. Consider these differences between those with no college education and those with post-graduate education:
After reviewing these findings, John Avlon comments, "These new numbers are shocking but not surprising – they detail the extent to which Wingnuts are hijacking our politics. This poll should be a wake-up call to all Americans about the real costs of using fear and hate to pump up hyper-partisanship. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing our country in the process. Americans need to remember the perspective that Wingnuts always forget – patriotism is more important than partisanship."
So what indeed! These responses recall a favorite saying of our founder Lou Harris that "when you don't want to publish a poll finding you dislike, you should get out of the business." The very large numbers of people who believe all these things of President Obama help to explain the size and strength of the Tea Party Movement, a topic that will be addressed in another Harris Poll in a few days time.
PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE VARIOUS STATEMENTS ABOUT PRESIDENT OBAMA ARE TRUE
"On another subject, here are some things people have said about President Obama. Please indicate for each whether you
Summary of True
Base: All adults
|Total||Education||Political Philosophy||Political Party|
|He is a socialist||40||45||38||42||20||67||30||15||67||14||42|
He wants to take away
|He is a Muslim||32||43||30||24||9||51||26||16||57||15||29|
He wants to turn over the
He has done many things that
|He resents America's heritage||27||31||26||25||18||49||19||9||47||12||27|
He does what Wall Street and
He was not born in the United
He is a domestic enemy that the
|He is a racist||23||28||22||20||9||42||15||7||42||7||22|
|He is anti-American||23||27||22||20||9||43||14||8||41||7||22|
He wants to use an economic
He is doing many of the things
|He may be the Anti-Christ||14||18||13||9||4||24||9||8||24||6||13|
|He wants the terrorists to win||13||16||11||11||6||23||9||6||22||5||12|
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
©2010 Harris Interactive.