How deep does the paranoia run?

HOW DEEP DOES THE PARANOIA RUN?…. When Doug Hoffman announced his belief that there was an ACORN-led conspiracy to steal the recent congressional special election in New York’s 23rd, the temptation was to assume the poor guy had gone mad. But Alex Koppelman notes a new poll that suggests Hoffman is only lending his voice to widespread, right-wing paranoia.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, got lucky with the timing of its latest survey. That’s because PPP asked respondents, “Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?”

Fully 26 percent of respondents said they believe ACORN stole the election for Obama, compared to 62 percent who said they think he won it fair and square. 12 percent weren’t sure.

The numbers were even more revealing when broken down along partisan lines. A majority of Republicans — 52 percent — think ACORN stole the presidency, while just 27 percent said they believe Obama’s office is legitimately his.

Now, I haven’t seen the details or methodology of this poll, but I’m a little skeptical about the results. OK, more than a little.

Barack Obama received nearly 70 million votes on Election Day, and picked up 365 electoral votes. One in four Americans — and a majority of self-identified Republicans — believes this was made possible due to the secret, carefully-executed, coordinated national efforts of a community group that can’t recognize fake pimps?

I’m willing to believe there are a lot of very confused conservatives out there. I’m even willing to concede that much of the Republican Party necessarily questions the legitimacy of any election in which the GOP candidate loses. But this poll has to be wrong, doesn’t it?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.