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Who Thinks Obama Isn’t a Christian?

- June 30, 2008

Today’s Washington Post article about anti-Obama rumors has the blogosphere buzzing. Over at TNR’s Plank, Jason Zengerle suggests that Republicans are more likely to believe such rumors because they are primed to believe all sorts of terrible things about Democrats.

But are Republicans more likely to believe such rumors? An April Newsweek poll indicated that only a bare majority (52 percent) of respondents believed that Barack Obama was a Christian. Thirteen percent said he was a Muslim, 9 percent said he was something else, and 26 percent said they didn’t know of refused to answer. Here’s how the numbers broke down by party:

RepublicanDemocrat Independent
Muslim 15 12 11
Something Else11 9 9
Don’t Know/Refused to Answer 27 23 34

As you can see, Democrats were somewhat more likely to identify Obama as a Christian and similar percentages of Democrats and Republicans identified him as a Muslim. On the other hand, the differences are much greater between different levels of education.

Non HS Grad HS Grad Some College College Grad or More
Something Else18979
Don’t Know/Refused to Answer30342815

Those without a high school diploma were half as likely to identify Obama as a Christian and twice as likely to identify him as a Muslim. Those in the lower education categories also seem much more likely to say that Obama is of a different religion or to claim that they don’t know or refuse to answer. This makes sense since those with less education are probably less able to sort out the difference between fact and rumor. The real break point seems to be between those with at least some college education and those without. These numbers strongly suggest that rumors about Obama’s religion are most likely to influence those with less education, regardless of their partisanship.