A majority of Republicans believe that President Barack Obama "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world," according to a survey released on Monday.
That figure, buried at the very end of a newly released Newsweek public opinion poll, reflects the extent to which a shocking bit of smear and misinformation has managed to become nearly commonplace within the GOP tent.
(Read the full poll results here.)
A full 14 percent of Republicans said that it was "definitely true" that Obama sympathized with the fundamentalists and wanted to impose Islamic law across the globe. An additional 38 percent said that it was probably true -- bringing the total percentage of believers to 52 percent. Only 33 percent of Republicans said that the "allegation" (as Newsweek put it) was "probably not true." Seven percent said it was "definitely not true." The rest (eight percent) either didn't know the answer or didn't read the question.
The Newsweek findings add more kindling to the already-heated debate raging around the persistent rumors that Obama is a closeted Muslim (he's not). In an illustration of just how deeply news outlets have been drawn to the topic, the magazine devoted seven of its 24 questions to Muslim-themed topics, producing, in the process, a number of telling and newsworthy numbers.
Fifty-nine percent of Republicans, for instance, said they believed the president favored "the interests of Muslims over other groups of Americans," while only 34 percent of said he had been "generally even handed" in his approach. In contrast, nine percent of Democrats said Obama favored "the interests of Muslims over other groups of Americans" while 82 percent of Democrats said he had been even-handed.
On a more uplifting front, 16 percent of all respondents said they had a very favorable view of Muslims while 45 percent said they had a "mostly favorable" view -- the highest and second highest totals recorded for those answers in the survey's history, respectively.