webermpolarisnet 24 Apr 2011 CBS News reports on another finding of the poll discussed in the item preceding this one: A quarter of all Americans incorrectly think President Obama was not born in the United States, according to a new CBS News/ New York Times poll. Among all Republicans, 45 percent believe he was born in another country, as do 45 percent of Tea Party supporters, the poll shows. Since the start of Mr. Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, rumors have existed that he was born outside of the United States. The "birther" myth has steadily persisted through Mr. Obama's presidency, in spite of overwhelming evidence he was born in the United States--including his 1961 birth announcement, printed in two Hawaii newspapers. One reason the birther myth has persisted is because the media keep bringing it up--including polling people about it, as if it were a matter of opinion. But here's something that bothers us about the results of this particular poll: They give us the overall results (57% say yes, he was born in the U.S., 25% say no) and specific numbers for Republicans (33% and 45%) and "Tea Party supporters" (34% and 45%), but not for Democrats and independents. Presumably Democrats overwhelmingly answer yes, but it would be interesting to know which way the independents lean. It looks to us as if the purpose of asking the question was simply to make Republicans look foolish. Pollsters could have done the same to Democrats during the presidency of George W. Bush, though most didn't. Politico's Ben Smith managed to track down an exception: I've been looking for a good analogue to the willingness of Republicans to believe, or say they believe, that Obama was born abroad, and one relevant number is the share of Democrats willing to believe, as they say, that "Bush knew." There aren't a lot of great public numbers on the partisan breakdown of adherents to that conspiracy theory, but the University of Ohio yesterday shared with us the crosstabs of a 2006 poll they did with Scripps Howard that's useful in that regard. "How likely is it that people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?" the poll asked. A full 22.6% of Democrats said it was "very likely." Another 28.2% called it "somewhat likely." Smith cautions that "I'm still not sure this represents actual belief, as opposed to a kind of trash talk about a president you hate"--a point that applies equally to Obama detractors who assent to birther nonsense. One wonders, too, if the liberal media's obsession with birtherism might be counterproductive inasmuch as it helps propagate the myth.