April 1, 2009

No Decline in Belief That Obama is a Muslim

Nearly One-in-Five White Evangelicals Think So

More than two months into Barack Obama’s presidency, as many people incorrectly identify him as a Muslim as did so during the 2008 campaign. When asked about Obama’s religious beliefs, 11% say he is a Muslim. In October, 12% said Obama is a Muslim, which was unchanged from earlier in the campaign.

In the current survey, 35% say they do not know Obama’s religion, either because they do not know enough about him (22%), or because they have heard different things about his religion (13%); another 6% refused to answer.

As was the case last fall, white evangelical Protestants (19%) and Republicans (17%) are among the most likely to view Obama as a Muslim. Fewer than half in each group — 38% of white evangelicals and 46% of Republicans — correctly identify Obama as a Christian.

While relatively few Democrats (7%) say Obama is a Muslim, just 55% correctly identify his religious beliefs as Christian, down slightly from 61% last fall. Among independents, 10% say Obama is a Muslim (compared with 12% in October), while 45% say he is a Christian (50% in October).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 9-12 among 1,308 adults reached on landlines and cell phones, finds continuing educational differences in views of Obama’s religious beliefs: 68% of college graduates correctly identify Obama as a Christian, while 6% say he is a Muslim. By contrast, just a third (33%) of those with no more than a high school education say Obama is a Christian, while 14% see him as a Muslim.


About the Survey

Results for this survey are based on telephone interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates among a nationwide sample of 1,308 adults, 18 years of age or older, from March 9-12, 2009 (982 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 326 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 104 who had no landline telephone). The sampling error that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for the total sample is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

The following question was used for this analysis. Results from other questions in this survey have been previously released.