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

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


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. ccm123

    29% say probably? 57% of republican'ts say he was? The quarter of the population thin he wasn't? Wake up folks!! He was born here in the US. If he were white, again we would not be having this discussion. The birthers are probably the stupidest out of the hate Obama crowd next to the tea tards, which nine times out of ten are one in the same.

    August 4, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. cjr

    just where do these people live? what is their educational level? what church do they attend? I bet they all belong to the republican tea party crowd

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Adonomo

    This was a waste of time and energy trying to conduct a poll about whether the Presdent was born in U.S. Was that done when Reagan was president? Was it done under Carter or Bill Clinton? It is now being done and even reported because a person of color is the President. Racism will never cease and this is coming from those who claim to be christian and hold the motral high ground.

    I am a christian but will not worship the God that they claim to worship because my God does not hate nor dicriminate.

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Elliott

    I would bet that most of these American's polled couldn't tell you the names of the first 5 American Presidents either without Googling it first.

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. James

    I'm no fan of Obama, but this birther BS is a load of hogwash. How to people honestly believe these ridiculous conspiracy theories? Obama was born in the US, he's the President, get over it. Likewise Bush did not secretly organize 9/11, that theory is equally as ridiculous.

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  6. Independent_me

    This doubt about the President's birth and nationality is fueled by the racist element that controls the Tea party. It is also encouraged by Republicans whose own secret bigotry and racial prejudices find comfort and expression through the Tea Party.

    The Tea Part allows the racists and the haters of America to freely express their hatred of this African American President (whom they hate primarily because he is Black, secondarily because he is a Democrat).

    But here is why their "birther" position is so ridiculous: one of our sons is an Officer in the military. When he went through the officer's training program he also had to get top secret clearance. This included a thorough check of his background and family, neighbors, acquaintances and birth records were investigated.

    Now, do we really think that the President of the United States would not have been subjected to such scrutiny???? REALLY????

    This fact alone should dispel any doubts about the authenticity of the President's birth – but even if there was a movie of the live birth with the Seal of the State of Hawaii in it, and the governor at that time making the delivery, these people would not believe it.

    You cannot reason with racists or fools...and they are both who are "birthers".

    CNN – why don't you do a report on the type of background checks military officers and the President must got through????

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. Max Conrad

    About 12 years ago I wanted to to fly to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico for the first time. At that time you did not need a Passport to do so, just a Birth Certificate and ID. I got my birth certifiate from my files and went to the airport. I was told that the document I had was not a Birth Certificate, but a Certificate of Live Birth. The Airport Official said they were not the same thing and I was not allowed to fly to Mexico. I had to send to the State of Louisiana for a certified copy of my Birth Certificate and took the trip months later.

    Now read this carefully: A Certificate of Live Birth IS NOT A BIRTH CERTIFICATE! They are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DOCUMENTS! I guess CNN was too busy covering the Lindsay Lohan story to correctly research this FACT!

    A Birth Certificate is a legal document that lists ALL the particulars of a person's birth, like the delivering doctor, the exact date & time, the exact hospital BY NAME!

    Obama REFUSES to release this document. WHY?! What possible harm could it do to himself or the country to release this common document.

    I'll tell you, IT DOES NOT EXIST, at least not a valid one from this country. Until someone gives me a reason that makes sense, I will continue to think Obama IS LYING!

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. Poser

    What this poll shows is people believe what they want to believe even when faced with facts. It's pretty sad that our education system has failed to teach even basic critical thinking skills.
    The evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii is clearly there and yet people refuse to accept the facts. That whole 'judged by a jury of your peers' thing is pretty scary when you consider people won't accept facts.

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Sly

    Even with incontrovertible proof that Obama was born in Hawaii, the non-believers will still say he wasn't ... if he was white, no one would question it ...

    August 4, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. rick

    The same people that believe that President Obama was not born in the US are the ones who believe that Rush is a serious journalist and Fox News is "fair and balanced". As the conservative crowd believes, if you say anything long enough and loud enough, it has to be the truth. This stuff is easier to come up with than finding real solutions to complex problems.

    August 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Jay

    I'd support Obama even if he was from Mars.

    Sad that these people spend more time trying to create controversy about where this man was born even though he has a valid birth certificate proving he was born in an US state.

    Why wasn't there a birther controversy for Bush? As if it needs to be said, because he was a white Republican. But a black President? Oh we have to find some way to illegitimize his validly won place as the President.

    If you birthers remember, Bush actually lost the popular vote and was placed as the President thanks to the Republican Supreme Court. Where were your questions then or after that imbecile drove this country into the ground?

    Shame on you, you stupid white trash.

    August 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. Chas in Iowa

    The birthers are just clinging to the hope that some detail will eliminate the threat of a black man taking hold of the presidency of the USA.

    Birthers, Tea Baggers, and most of the GOP are just racists hiding behind their agenda.

    August 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. CathyInAZ

    Just another reason why most rational people believe that the Birthers & Tea Partiers ARE NUT JOBS with this crap continually espoused by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, etc.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. tnmom

    Moot point. #1: Appropriate people have seen his birth certificate. Every "American" doesn't need to personally hold it and check it over. #2: he could have been born on the peak of Mt Everest and it doesn't matter. His mother was an American citizen; therefore, by default, he is too. Drop it. Get over it and move on to something actually important!

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. buddy

    Well I am glad they finally found it. Maybe now they can shut up and start looking for Bush's brain, I say we wasted 8 yrs trying to find something we will never find.....

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. SFCMike

    Well, 27% isn't so bad, when you consider 50% of the population has a two-digit IQ by definition. Probably not far off the percentage of people who insist the moon landings were fake.

    The irony is it wouldn't make a difference. The wording in the Constutition is not "born within the United States" it is "natural born citizen" – i.e. a citizen of the United States by birthright, as opposed to naturalization. My son was born overseas, but under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1954 (which is the controlling law for the President, as well), his United States citizenship is a matter of birth right. It can not be denied or revoked by any government official – unlike naturalized citizens, whose citizenship can be stripped by the government under certain circumstances.

    No court or statute has ever construed the wording in the Constitution to mean that "natural born citizen" means more than a citizen by right of birth.

    Regardless, these people need something to get worked up over.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Ken Margo

    Bigots are not known for their brains. John McCain was born in Panama. Yet no one questioned him on his right to be President. Bigots are afraid that President Obama has opened the door for other non-whites to president. That's why you hear all kinds of crazy lies about the man.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Tired of This

    It is clear President Obama was born in the United States. But, it appears Sarah Palin was hatched from an egg since she has a brain the size of a chicken's. Come on Birthers, the road runs both ways.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. An American grandmother

    Hate is a powerful force that even makes people ignore facts, i.e., Hawaii's official document of Pres. Obama's "live birth" there, right in front of their eyes. America is sick and becoming sicker with intolerance and bigotry. Shame on these people. Shame!

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Rick

    Well, the mother's name is different on the two, so I'm not sure these documents are very reliable.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Malt

    Ironically, it was supporters of the Clintons that brought up the whole 'Obama birther' conspiracy (ie. Democrats).

    That said, it is a stupid argument. Children born to US citizens are also US citizens. Obama's mother is obviously a US citizen, as is my sister who was born in Italy and is a US citizen.

    Please stop this silly birth certificate debate.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Gary

    Well, you know a lot of people think the moon landings were fake, that there is a mythical sky creature that controls all our lives, that WWE wrestling is real, that Elvis is alive, that the holocaust never happened and that politicians really care about them.

    So, whatever.

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Jeannettelj

    Isn't there any real news around? This is a non issue and these right wing nut jobs need to get on another band wagon. If one quarter of the population believe he is not a US citizen, that means that three quarters do believe that he is a US citizen. Don't these people have anything better to do?

    August 4, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Stacey

    These idiot Birthers don't give up. McCain was born in Panama, now what? Obama's presidency has brought out all kinds of wackos!

    August 4, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Midwestmatt

    His mother is American. At the very least, that makes him a citizen.

    All the birthers are complete loons and need to get a life.

    Just because you got spanked in the last election doesn't give you any right to make up conspiracy theories about a duly elected POTUS.

    At least Obama won the popular vote and by a good margin, too.

    August 4, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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