Results from a poll administered in the fall of 2014 by Assistant Political Science Professor Alex Theodoridis of the University of Merced show 54% of Republicans think President Obama is “deep down” a Muslim.
Theodoridis posed the following question to respondents: "Which of these do you think most likely describes what Obama believes deep down? Muslim, Christian, atheist, spiritual, or I don’t know.”
A total of 1,000 American adults were asked the specific question about Obama’s religion online. The sampling included Republicans, Democrats and Independents, and the results were published by Theodoridis on The Washington Post’s blog Monkey Page.
A staggering 54% of Republicans responded with “Muslim.” An “I Don’t Know” answer garnered 29% of the Republican vote; Christian came in third at 9%, then atheist at 5%, and spiritual with 3%.
Theodoridis takes special care to mention potential Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (Wisconsin) recently responded to a question on whether he thought Obama was Christian with, “I don’t know.”
Of the surveyed Independents, 26% found Obama to be “Muslim,” with 47% providing an “I Don’t Know” answer. "Christian" only got a 16% response rate.
As for Democrats, the majority of the respondents chose “Christian” for a total of 45%. The “I Don’t Know” answer once again came in second with 26% of responses. A “Muslim” answer was given by 10% of respondents.
Obama states his religion as Christian.
Theodoridis believes the reason his question garnered very different results than similar questions posed in other polls about Obama’s religious affiliation is because of how he worded the question.
“Previous survey questions about Obama’s religion tend to sound like a pop quiz — such as 'do you happen to know the religious faith of Barack Obama?' But by asking 'what Obama believes deep down?' I was intentionally granting respondents license to stray from the president’s self-reported Christian faith. This reveals a prevalent willingness to distrust this president or categorize him as 'the other' in terms of religion,” Theodoridis wrote.
He also admitted that respondents could have been “cheerleading,” wherein they used the poll to express their dislike of Obama rather than “a genuine view about his religious faith.” Had “cheerleading” been a leading cause for respondents, though, Theodoridis thinks there would have been more “Atheist” responses.
Vox reports that the uptick in belief that Obama is Muslim could be attributed to the rise of ISIS, as political opponents have argued he is soft on Islamic terror. The opponents do not say he is soft on Islamic terror because he is Muslim, but it could fuel pre-existing suspicions of Obama based on his race and background.