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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The “He’s a Muslim” Rap Persists

Beliefnet’s Steve Waldman drew attention today to a finding in the new Pew poll that I missed: the persistent belief of many voters that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Currently 55% of registered voters correctly identify Obama as a Christian, while 12% say he’s a Muslim, and the rest are unsure. These numbers have been remarkably stable since June. Among voters who say they support John McCain, only 47% say Obama’s a Christian, while 16% say he’s a Muslim (down from 19% last month).
In defense of Colin Powell’s claim that Republicans bear significant responsibility for the Obama-the-Muslim myth, Waldman provides a good compilation of evidence from conservative journals and Republican operatives who have sought to fan the flames by alluding to an Obama-Muslim connection.
But in the end, maybe it doesn’t matter that much. Far and away, the age demographic with the highest levels of confusion over Obama’s religious identity (45% Christian, 19% Muslim) is under-30 voters, his strongest generational group. And 8% of Obama supporters think he’s a Muslim, but don’t care, as well they shouldn’t.

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