FRANKFORT — Despite evidence that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, only a slight majority of Kentuckians think the Democratic president was born in the United States, according to a new poll.
The survey, conducted by Research 2000 and released by the liberal publication Daily Kos, showed that 51 percent of Kentuckians said they think Obama was born in this country. Twenty percent said they think he was born elsewhere, and 29 percent said they weren't sure.
"Sadly, that means 49 percent of Kentuckians are fully ill-informed," said Rep. Jim Glenn, an Owensboro Democrat and one of six African-Americans in the state House.
Although a liberal publication paid for the poll of 600 likely Kentucky voters, Research 2000 of Olney, Md., is an independent pollster routinely used by dozens of newspapers, including the Lexington Herald-Leader. The survey, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 1, has a margin of error of four percentage points.
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Respondents were asked: "Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?"
Beliefs about Obama's birthplace are divided along racial and political lines.
While 94 percent of black respondents said they think Obama was born in the United States, only 45 percent of white respondents were certain that he was born here.
Among Democrats, 72 percent said Obama was born in America. Nine percent answered no and 19 percent weren't sure.
Among Republicans, 30 percent said they think the president was born in the United States, 36 percent said they think he was born elsewhere and 34 percent were not sure.
Investigations by numerous media outlets, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact service of the St. Petersburg Times, have determined that Obama was born in Hawaii.
"I guess some people believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts," Glenn said.
State Rep. Reginald Meeks, a Louisville Democrat and an African-American in the state House, said the poll "shows at least half of Kentuckians are paying attention and realize the president was born in America.
"It shows the relationship between the media and an educated electorate."
Still, there is a flourishing culture of advocates — known as birthers — who are devoted to proving that Obama was born in Kenya and is not eligible to be president of the United States.
The conservative Web site WorldNetDaily claims that about 300,000 people have signed a petition demanding more information on Obama's birth.
Courts across the country have rejected the theory and Hawaii officials, citing Obama's "certification of live birth" and newspaper birth announcements, affirm that Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961.
The White House has said the issue is irrelevant.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele agrees.
The RNC released this statement last month: "Chairman Steele believes that this is an unnecessary distraction and believes that the president is a U.S. citizen.
"Chairman Steele wants to move beyond this conversation and continue discussing the real and immediate concerns that face American families like the economy and health care."