15% 'know for sure' Obama was not born in the U.S.

February 12, 2014, 1:47 PM GMT+0

The beliefs of many “birthers” – those who think that President Obama was born outside the United States – may not be as set in stone as they appear.

In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 61% of those who declare that the statement “Barack Obama was born in the United States” is false change their minds when asked how sure they are, and say that in fact it is possible he was born in the United States.

Of course, the controversy over the President’s birthplace – and therefor his eligibility to serve as President – has a partisan cast. Two-thirds of Republicans disagree with the statement that the President was born in the United States. But they are nearly as likely as those of other political viewpoints who say the President was born outside the country to admit that they know this for sure. However, that still leaves more than a quarter of Republicans in this poll who say they are sure the President was born outside the United States.

Overall, 15% of adults say they are sure the President was not born in the United States.

The percentage agreeing that the President was born within the United States is nearly as high as it was immediately after the release of the long-form birth certificate, and is higher than the percentage agreeing during the 2012 re-election campaign.

One point of potential confusion could be the perceived status of Hawaii at the time of the President’s birth. Hawaii had become a state less than two years before Barack Obama was born; it had been a territory since it was annexed by the United States in 1893, shortly after the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown.

College graduates are among the least likely of all groups to think that the President was born outside the United States; only 6% of them are sure he was.

The Presidential library

Deciding where a Presidential library should be usually means placing it near a President’s birthplace or in the location where the President became a political leader. Ronald Reagan’s Presidential library is in California, not in his native Illinois, George H.W. Bush’s library is in Texas, not Massachusetts. But the Dwight D. Eisenhower library is in AbIlene, Kansas, where he grew up, though he was born in Texas, and at the time he ran for President, he was working in New York City. There are several sites competing for the Barack Obama presidential library: Honolulu, Hawaii, where Barack Obama was born and raised, and Chicago, where he came to political prominence. New York City may also be a contender.

Americans in a recent YouGov Poll gave Chicago a small edge, but not without a birther argument. 11% said the library should be outside the United States, with most of those siting it in Kenya or elsewhere in Africa.

The only region where Hawaii was in first place was in the West. Northeasterners were divided. Nearly one in five Republicans volunteered that the Obama Library should be in Africa.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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