Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Obama is Still Muslim

I'm a big user of data from the American National Election Studies, as are most who tinker in the academic world of political science and communication. The 2016 "pilot study" just came out (where they test new questions) and I was skimming it, mildly curious, when I discovered they asked whether Obama is a Muslim. And they asked a follow-up (see below). I have some history with this question, having published research on the matter.

So, in 2016, is Obama still a Muslim? You bet he is. At least according to one-third of a random sample of U.S. adults.

The survey asked 1,200 respondents: "Is Barack Obama a Muslim, or is he not a Muslim?" Survey says:

Yes - 400 (33.3 percent)
No  - 794 (66.2 percent)
No Answer - 6 (0.5 percent)

The follow-up question asked: "How sure are you about that?" This is where things get kinda interesting. To summarize, respondents were more sure about him not being a Muslim than they were about him being a Muslim. That's heartening, I suppose. Nearly half of those who said Obama is not Muslim were very sure, while only one-quarter of those who thought he was Muslim were very sure. The bar chart below breaks it down for you. Among those "extremely sure," we see more of the Obama-is-not-a-Muslim folks. But ... in the "moderately" and "very" sure categories, we see more of the Obama-is-a-Muslim folks. 

For you stats nerds, this is X2 = 82.3, df = 4, p<.001. If you examine the standardized residuals, you'll see more Obama-is-Muslim folks than would be expected by chance are found in the middle groups, and fewer in the extremes (not at all sure, or extremely sure). For those even more nerdy, yes by t-test that "not a Muslim" folks are more confident (M = 3.8) than are the "he's a Muslim" folks (M = 3.5, t = 3.5, df = 1192, p<.001)

For fun one day this week (or spring break, woo hoo) I'll break it down further. Who are the "extremely sure" folks on Obama's Mulsimness, and how do they differ from those who think he's Muslim but aren't quite as sure.

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