Monday, July 21, 2008

What Religion, Part II

Just stumbled across an Associated Press-Yahoo poll that asks more or less the same religion question I blogged about below. Respondents were asked, what's the religion of various candidates?

Hillary Clinton: 33% have her as Protestant, 8% as Catholic, 2% as "some other," 3% say "none," and just over half don't have a clue.

Barack Obama: 27% have him as Protestant, 2% identify him as Catholic, 1% as Mormon (that's fascinating), 15% as Muslim, 8% as "some other religion," 1% as no religion and the rest, nearly half, don't know.

So one poll has 12% saying Obama is a Muslim, the other has 15%. More or less in the margin of error, suggesting (1) people want to believe he's Muslim for partisan reasons, or (2) his name confuses them and they offer Muslim as a likely response, or (3) they don't attend to the news, or (4) they're just plain suspicious of this guy who came, more or less, out of nowhere to capture the Democratic nomination, or (5) they're just plain dumb.

In the story, which doesn't offer a lot of detail, there's an interesting intereview with a respondent:

Randi Estes, a Democrat from Ada, Okla., said she prefers Clinton but feels Obama is likely to win the nomination. "He's gotten very strong media coverage, and Bill Clinton's not helping her a bit," said Estes, 36, who has four children under the age of 6.

Speaking of Obama, she said, "I have a sense he's a Muslim."

It's that sense I find fascinating, and I suspect the Obama people may find troubling. But they can't find it too troubling, because that suggests there's something wrong with being Muslim (which there isn't). It's an interesting problem. As I like to say to my department chair when he wants to discuss some problem: "Good luck with that."

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