August 4th, 2010
11:25 AM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Quarter doubt Obama was born in U.S.

ALT TEXT

President Obama’s birth certificate (left) has been certified authentic by the Republican governor of Hawaii. His birth announcement (right) appeared in print in 1961. (PHOTO CREDIT: State of Hawaii)


Washington (CNN) - It's surely not what the leader of the free world wants for his birthday. But, for a stubborn group of Americans, conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace are the gifts that keep on giving.

The president celebrates his 49th birthday Wednesday. On the same day, a new national poll indicates some Americans continue to doubt the president was born in the United States. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, more than a quarter of the public have doubts about Obama's citizenship, with 11 percent saying Obama was definitely not born in the United States and another 16 percent saying the president was probably not born in the country.

Full results [pdf]

Forty-two percent of those questioned say they have absolutely no doubts that the president was born in the U.S., while 29-percent say he "probably" was.

"Not surprisingly, there are big partisan differences, although a majority of Republicans thinks Obama was definitely or probably born here," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Eighty-five percent of Democrats say that Obama was definitely or probably born in the U.S., compared to 68 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans say he was probably not born here, and another 14 percent of Republicans say he was definitely not born in the U.S."

The theory that the president was not born in the U.S. has nagged him since the 2008 presidential campaign. A group of true believers, known as "Birthers," have pressed the idea that Obama was born in another country - some say in his father's homeland of Kenya. By their claims, Obama is constitutionally ineligible to serve as president.

On the president's birthday, some websites bent on advancing the theory are wishing Obama a "Happy Birther Day." And some of the president's staunchest critics are fanning the flames.

On Tuesday, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh quipped on his program, "They tell us August 4th is the birthday. We haven't seen any proof of that!"

Yet there is ample evidence that defies Limbaugh's statement and the beliefs of the 27-percent of Americans that, according to the poll, doubt the president's birthplace. CNN and other news organizations have thoroughly debunked the rumors.

Hawaii has released a copy of the president's birth certificate - officially called a "certificate of live birth." And in 1961 the hospital where the president was born placed announcements in two Hawaiian newspapers regarding Obama's birth.

The White House has called doubts that Obama was born in Hawaii "fictional nonsense."

But questions persist. So much that in May, Hawaii passed a law that allows state agencies to ignore repeated requests to view government records, including the president's birth document. Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle signed the legislation into law.

Around that time, Lingle - who campaigned for Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008 - criticized questions about the president's birth.

In a WABC interview before signing the legislation, Lingle said, "...I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records of the Department of Health." Lingle added, " … The president was in fact born at Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that's just a fact."

"It's been established he was born here," the governor continued. "I can understand why people want to make certain that the constitutional requirement of being a, you know, natural born American citizen … but the question has been asked and answered. And I think just we should all move on now."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN's Alexander Mooney, Paul Steinhauser and Sam Feist contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN Polls • Hawaii • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. andrea

    These are nothing but racist fools.

    August 4, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. DJ in TX

    Do people realize John McCain was also NOT born in the U.S? He was born in Panama. Does that not make him an American Citizen???

    There are thousands of people who were born outside the U.S., but are still U.S. Citizens. In fact, they have dual citizenships. Obama's mother was American, no matter where he was born, that makes him American.

    McCain's parents were American, no matter where he was born, he's still American's. Service members have children all over the world. Are we now claiming that those children are NOT American Citizens???

    People like the "birthers" including Limbaugh, make me wonder what kind of country I went to war for. This is absolutely ridiculous. There are other legitimate things we can debate or disagree on, but this one needs to just stop. Damn.

    August 4, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Johnny

    Wow, the level of ignorance prevelant in this country is simply staggering.

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  4. Roscoe

    Blind hate. That's the core support for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman. Putting hate ahead of intellect. If you don't like the president's policies, present arguments against them.

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. pat

    Nothing is ever going to convince the birthers. They hate this president so much, they will cling to anything to discredit him. They also say he is a Muslim whose goal is to "take over" the United States for Islam. Their paranoia is a mental illness.

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Dewey

    Dr. Goebbels, I presume.

    You've mischaracterized the issue. Obama's father was not a US citizen hence Obama is not a Natural Born citizen (perhaps he is a US citizen though) and is not qualified under the US Constitution.

    Hiding the information, ignoring requests for doucments and mischaracterizing the issue are simply treasonous actions.

    Obama is not qualified to be the US President.

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. enlightened

    Just another example of the intelligence of the right wing, Beck believing, Limbaugh loving, NUT JOBS! it's getting really scary in this country right now, how can so many peole be that brainwashed by the right? What makes it more unbelievable is that the large majority of these folks don't even realize they're being used by the conservative extremist's! It's really a shame, but the right wing has figured out that if you yell and scream about Christianity, guns, gays, immigration and socialism, even if the information is flat out wrong, it will suck some folks into their corner! sickening!

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. NKato

    They could've titled this poll, "Quarter of Americans Still Clueless, Rest of U.S. Moves On With Lives.'

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Mike

    same 25% that thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. alinka

    With this dramatic poll, will CNN finally join with the substantial block of Americans calling for the President to give Hawaii permission to release the original form birth certificate, rather than the computer-generated "certificate of live birth" which simply proclaims the original exists somewhere in their archives? Obama has never given such permission, in what is almost certainly a Saul Alinsky tactic to fan the fires of dissension and hatred between right and left in our society.

    Please, CNN, acknowledge that there is a document Obama claims exists, but that he won't give permission to release. He hasn't even done a "John F. Kerry" and permitted a handful of "legitimate" journalists to see the original birth certificate.

    August 4, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Steve, New York City

    Incredible. Do these people also think that George Washington is buried in Grant's tomb?

    August 4, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Jon

    Part of me is glad that Republicans are focused on such a ridiculous issue and leave the country's real problems to the grownups. But another part of me is very nervous that I live amongst so many disgruntled, misinformed and misguided GOPers.

    August 4, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. sheppard

    The fact of the matter is, these right/wrong wingers wouldn't acknowledge that the president was born in Hawaii if they had been standing in the room witnessing his birth. When you are as desperate and pathetic as the party of NO has become you begin to grasp at any straw, no matter how foolish you look – and they are looking pretty foolish at this point.

    August 4, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. john

    That's about in line with the percentage of racists in America. The racists will always contend that he is not qualified to be president becasue he is not a citizen. What a joke.

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Kevin

    100% of the 25% are stupid.

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Hal

    Hmmm, isn't the "Freedom of Information Act" a Federal law, yet Hawaii passed a state law negating that? How can that be? Where's the Attorney General's outrage and federal lawsuit against Hawaii?

    Just sayin'....

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Yossi Gestetner

    I am NOT taking a side in this debate, but just FYI:

    1) According to Hawaii law, “a person born in a foreign country who has been legally adopted in the State of Hawaii,” can apply and obtain a Birth Certificate. They only need a “certified copy of the adoption decree or the certificate of adoption, and payment of fees.” In other words, even if – let’s say – Barack Obama was born Kenya, he can still get a Birth paper from Hawaii, since he was adapted to his grandmother in… Hawaii.

    2) The words atop the Hawaii paper that Obama’s people posted online, read “Certification of Live Birth.” According to the Hawaiian Home Lands website, a Certificate of Live birth is an “original birth certificate,” which “generally has more information” than say… a Certification of Life Birth, the one Obama made public. However, both are valid as Birth Certificates in the State of Hawaii. But again, even if you are born in Kenya, you can get a Certification, as long you were adopted in the State.

    3) Regarding the Mazel Tove in the newspaper back then, get this: A) President Obama has eight half-siblings by four other marriages or relationships of his parents. So go figure on your own which son was in the papers. B) My Father-in-Law – who lives in South America, placed a Mazel Tove for my wife and me in a Argetina paper to the birth of my son that took place in NY, to us two American parants...

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Bob(Illinois)

    No matter what evidence is presented or who inspects it these "birther" nuts will not pay attention. They represent some of what is truly sick in these times. Ignorant, ignorant people!

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. candida

    Does not look like mine......where are the signatures...the physician's name and signature....his mother's signature......the time of birth...etc....that typed "document" is not from 1961 and does not appear to be authentic......I don't care one way or the other.....I was for Hillary and voted for McCain.....look.....it is a computer generated form....1961 it was all still typewriters.....no computers.....bahahahaha

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. chutchin

    Sigh...it sure is tiring to keep seeing this type of crap over and over. Only a moron would continue with this as fact instead of the lie it is.

    August 4, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Justin

    Some poeple have way too much time on their hands,, this is a lost cause indicative of terrified Republicans who know they're going to be on the political sidelines for the next decade.

    August 4, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. DenInNooYawk

    It's probably the same percentage of morons who don't know Hawaii is part of the United States, or who think the Moon landings were fake, etc.

    August 4, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. JPX

    "a stubborn group of Americans" aka dumb people.

    August 4, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Janet

    It's a sad statement about this country that this big a percentage of people are this stupid.

    So I guess the Muslim Kenyans (which in and of itself is an oxymoron) started planning before Obama was born that he would someday be President of the United States, so they planted a fake birth announcement in the Honolulu paper. Wow, they sure were smart!

    August 4, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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