Misperceptions persist about Obama's faith, but aren't so widespread

A new CNN/ORC poll finds that although misperceptions about Barack Obama's religious beliefs and background persist, they are not as widespread as some recent polling has suggested. Obama was born in Hawaii and is a Christian.

Overall, when asked "Where was Obama born, as far as you know?" 80% of adults said they believe Obama was born in the United States. The other 20% said that he was born outside the country, including 9% who believe there is solid evidence of that and 11% who say it is just their suspicion.

Misperceptions about Obama's religious beliefs are more common than those about his birth, particularly among Republicans. Overall, 29% of Americans say they think the President is a Muslim, including 43% of Republicans.

The findings suggest beliefs about Obama's birth are remarkably stable: When ABC News and the Washington Post asked this question in the same way in April 2010, 77% of adults said Obama was born in the United States, 20% said in another country, with just 9% saying there was solid evidence Obama was not born in the United States.

READ: The complete CNN/ORC poll results

While some polling has suggested that substantial numbers of Republicans, particularly Donald Trump's backers, doubted that Obama was born in the United States, the new survey suggests most Republicans think Obama was born in the country.

While considering a 2011 run for the presidency, Trump raised questions about the president's birthplace, pushing for the release of his long-form birth certificate, and recently told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he didn't know whether Obama was born in the United States.

Obama ultimately did release a certified long-form birth certificate in April 2011, showing he was born at Honolulu's Kapiolani Hospital on August 4, 1961. When asked open-ended where Obama was born, rather than if it was in the United States or outside of it, fully 61% of Trump's supporters said he was born in the United States, as did 71% of all Republican and Republican-leaning voters.

Question wording is the key difference between this survey and those that have found broader doubts about the President's place of birth. When surveying people, they tend to choose a response from among those offered. If a pollster asks "What's your favorite color: red, green, orange or purple?" blue would barely register, since the respondent would have to think of it on their own, and orange would likely do better than if the pollster had asked the question without using a list.

In the far more weighty case of Obama's history, it is easier for a respondent to say Obama was born in another country when the choice offered is "in the United States or not," than it is when they are asked to recall a place unprompted.

Kenyan roots: Meet the other Obamas

 Kenyan roots: Meet the other Obamas

President Barack Obama's half-brother Malik, pictured addressing supporters on January 16, 2013, is a trained economist. He was the president's <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/us/politics/amid-politics-obama-drifted-away-from-kin.html?_r=0" target="_blank">best man at Obama's wedding</a>.<br /><a href="/2015/07/22/opinions/tony-elumelu-global-entrepreneurship-summit/index.html" target="_blank"><br />Read more: Why Obama's Kenya visit is a turning point for African entrepreneurship</a>


President Obama's half-brother, Mark Obama Ndesandjo, shares the same father, Barack Sr,. Ndesandjo, who lives near Hong Kong, <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/20/politics/obama-father-abusive/index.html" target="_blank">alleged in his 2013 memoir</a> that their father was an abusive alcoholic and "it would have been a much more difficult upbringing [for President Obama]" had his father been around. He has since gone on to raise awareness about domestic violence.<br />


George Hussein Obama is the son of Barack Sr.'s fourth wife. The president's half-brother was <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/22/bts.obama.brother/" target="_blank">visited by CNN</a> in Huruma, a Nairobi shanty town, in 2008, when he was training to become a mechanic. More recently he has opened up to the media, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_NmmimuHsc" target="_blank">telling Channel 4 News</a> that he has battled both drink and drug addictions, and now works as a youth leader, helping others to avoid the same problems.

President Obama speaks with his stepmother, Kezia Obama, at his swearing-in ceremony in 2009. Kezia was the first wife of Obama's father.

We all know the First Family: POTUS, FLOTUS, Sasha and Malia. But what about the president's extended Kenyan family? Swipe through the gallery and learn more about the Obamas you didn't know, to whom the 44th President of the United States is simply "<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1205/03/sp.01.html" target="_blank">Barry.</a>" <br /><a href="/2015/07/23/africa/kenya-visit-barack-obama/index.html" target="_blank"><br />Read more: Obamamania sweeps Kenya as resourceful businesses cash in on visit</a>


Barack Obama Sr., pictured with his son in an undated family snapshot from the 1960s, came from humble beginnings,<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/18/acd.01.html" target="_blank"> herding goats in the small village of Kogelo, Kenya</a>. He would go on to become a senior government economist, having studied at the University of Hawaii and later Harvard. Obama Sr. separated from Obama's mother shortly after the birth of their son and moved back to Kenya. Despite the separation, Obama Sr. kept up with his son's education, <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1205/03/sp.01.html" target="_blank">knowing all his grades at school</a>. He remarried and had further children, Obama Jr.'s half-siblings, and died aged 46 in a <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/18/acd.01.html" target="_blank">car accident in Nairobi</a>, 1982. Then-Sen. Obama's bestselling book "Dreams of My Father" closes with an emotive visit to his grave back in Kogelo.<br />


President Obama's paternal step-grandmother, Sarah Onyango Obama, aka "Mama Sarah," is the matriarch of the family. Mama Sarah<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/18/acd.01.html" target="_blank"> worked in the past as a cook</a> for British missionaries in Kenya and <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/07/kenya.obama.relatives/index.html" target="_blank">didn't own a TV</a> the first time her step-grandson was elected. In 2012 she attributed his absence to the busy schedule the president was running, but was "<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2012/11/06/sotvo-sarah-obama-on-election.cnn" target="_blank">confident he would find the time and visit soon</a>." She still lives in  Kogelo.

Auma Obama and the president, her half-brother, didn't meet until they were<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/18/acd.01.html" target="_blank"> in their 20s</a>. Their initial meeting features in her memoir "And then Life Happens," and tells of her visit to Chicago after receiving a letter from her half-brother in the wake of their father's death. She told CNN that her stay with the man who would become president was "<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0907/18/acd.01.html" target="_blank">like having a Christmas that doesn't finish</a>." She studied film in <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/05/world/africa/auma-obama-film/" target="_blank">Berlin in the early 1990s</a> and spent 16 years as a journalist and broadcaster.<br /><br /><a href="/2015/07/22/politics/obama-family-kenya-brooke-baldwin/index.html" target="_blank">Read more: Obama's sister: 'My brother has carried our name up there'</a>



Although nearly three in 10 say they think Obama is a Muslim, a plurality of Americans say he is a Christian. Among all adults, 39% say they believe Obama is a Protestant or other Christian, 4% think he's Catholic, 2% Mormon, 1% Jewish and 1% something else. Another 11% say he's not religious, and 14% that they just don't know. There's a wide education gap here, with most college grads believing Obama is a Protestant (63%) compared with just 28% of those who do not have college degrees.

The partisan divide is nearly as large, with 61% of Democrats saying Obama is a Protestant, vs. 32% of independents and 28% of Republicans. But the 43% of Republicans and 54% of Trump supporters who say they believe Obama is a Muslim is a smaller share than in other recent polling which asked only whether Obama is a Christian or a Muslim.

The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone September 4-8 among a random national sample of 1,012 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

News Courtesy: www.cnn.com