The Harris Poll has the results of a poll that surveyed 2,320 adults online between March 1 and 8, 2010 regarding beliefs held about President Barack Obama.
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.According to John Avlon, "It should be a wake up call to all Americans and a collective reminder, as we move past health-care reform, that we need to stand up to extremism."
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:
* He is a socialist (40%)
* He wants to take away Americans' right to own guns (38%)
* He is a Muslim (32%)
* He wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government (29%)
* He has done many things that are unconstitutional (29%)
* He resents America's heritage (27%)
* He does what Wall Street and the bankers tell him to do (27%)
* He was not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president (25%)
* He is a domestic enemy that the U.S. Constitutions speaks of (25%)
* He is a racist (23%)
* He is anti-American (23%)
* He wants to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers (23%)
* He is doing many of the things that Hitler did (20%)
* He may be the Anti-Christ (14%)
* He wants the terrorists to win (13%)
What Republicans, Democrats and Independents think
There are – no surprise here – huge differences between what Republicans and Democrats believe.
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.
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.