Since we’ve been talking off and on about the boundary-line that separates regular conservatives from the extremist fringe, and also because one of my regular topics is the intersection of politics and religion, check out this finding from a new PPP survey on subscription to conspiracy theories:
13% of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22% of Romney voters
This is a national poll, mind you, not a straw poll at some conservative evangelical clambake. Its margin-of-error is 2.8%. Extrapolated to the national electorate, it suggests that over 13 million Americans believe the President of the United States is a demonic supernatural being sent into the world to set up an infernal kingdom until it’s all washed away by the End of Days.
Now I understand all the limitations of this kind of polling. The Anti-Christ question is sprinkled in with all sorts of crazy questions about this or that odd theory (my favorite is: Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not? 4% of respondents are down with the “V hypothesis,” though the number rises to 11% among those self-identifying as “very conservative.”). Many Romney voters would be inclined to agree with anything negative said about Obama.
Still, the Anti-Christ?
Perhaps the second most-alarming result of the survey is that even after the recent heavy publicity about the lies surrounding the Iraq War, 36% of 2012 Romney voters (nearly half of those expressing an opinion) persist in thinking that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. There’s zero evidence of that, of course, but it’s hard to prove negatives to people who want to believe otherwise.
The PPP survey was conducted from March 27th through March 30, so it’s possible some respondents were influenced at least subliminally by those episodes of the TV miniseries The Bible that depicted Satan as looking more than a little like Barack Obama (and certainly a lot more than Ol’ Scratch resembled Mitt Romney). But any way you slice it, when progressives suggest on occasion that conservatives talk about Obama as though he were the Anti-Christ, it’s not all hyperbole.
UPDATE: On Twitter, TNR’s Nate Cohn reminds me to note that 19% of 2012 Romney voters are unsure whether Obama is the Anti-Christ (guess they are still reading the Book of Revelation and looking for signs). Only 59% are willing to say he’s not.