Generally speaking, when politicians become better known, completely erroneous assumptions about their background and identity decline. But not if you are a Republican, and the politician in question is Barack Obama.

A new religion-and-politics poll from Pew shows the percentage of Republicans who say the president is a Muslim has risen from 16 percent in October of 2008 to 30 percent today. Among self-identified “conservative Republicans,” those subscribing to the Muslim Meme is all the way up to 34%.

I suppose it’s possible that if Pew asked these folk if Obama was a Zoroastrian, an Animist, or a devil-worshiper, the numbers would be similar. Anything that sounds vaguely bad sounds vaguely good as a description for Barack Obama. This is another reason that if the president manages to get re-elected, we’ll need to send out the grief counselors to the deepest red parts of the country, and continue Mitt Romney’s Secret Service protection.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.