Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Right-wing talk show host and WorldNet Daily columnist Brad O'Leary has a fondness for Zogby polls, especially the ones he commissions himself. He used several of them in his 2008 anti-Obama book, The Audacity of Deceit, to make misleading claims about the president. And he frequently cites polls he's commissioned in his WND columns. (Just to give you the flavor of his polling inquiries, one O'Leary commissioned last year asked, "The stimulus bill would allow undocumented workers, who are also referred to as illegal aliens, who are working and paying taxes to collect a tax rebate check of $500 per person. Do you agree or disagree with this provision?")
This weekend, he presented a new poll to attendees of the Values Voter Summit in DC which could have been dubbed the "Is Obama a Muslim?" poll. The summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council, is a high-profile gathering of religious right activists who come to DC to hear from potential GOP presidential candidates and other conservative luminaries. But on Saturday afternoon, after the ballroom lights had dimmed and activists headed to smaller break-out sessions around the Omni Shoreham hotel, O'Leary headlined a presentation of new polling data that had been billed with the bait-and-switch title, "Who are the tea party and Christian voters and what do they believe?"
If the values voters on hand thought they might be getting some new insights into what makes the tea party tick, or on whether the tea party movement is really compatible with social conservative set, they may have been sorely disappointed. O'Leary gave a PowerPoint presentation that first examined a burning issue at the top of every tea partier's agenda these days: spanking. Most of the data he presented looked at whether tea partiers were more or less likely than Democrats or Republicans to believe parents have a legal right to dole out a "modest spanking" to their children. More than 80 percent of tea party respondents believed that they do, compared with 47 percent of Democrats. (The poll was connected to a later presentation by Home School Legal Defense Association head Michael Farris, who is trying to rally the faithful to oppose Senate ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which he believes will make spanking illegal.)
But even more revealing about O'Leary's data was the section he presented on the 2012 presidential hopefuls and their Christian values. While O'Leary said at the session that Zogby couldn't in good conscience ask people outright whether they thought Obama was a Muslim because the question itself was too biased, they could ask people whether they thought Obama had "strong Christian values or not." So that's what they did. And shockingly, only 37 percent of the respondents thought Obama wasn't a Muslim—er, was a good Christian, a number that actually went up the less likely someone was to go to church. (Of those who never attend church, 45 percent thought Obama was a good Christian.)
The breakdown was even more interesting when viewed by political loyalties as opposed to church attendance. O'Leary pointed out that a mere 2 percent of tea partiers think Obama has strong Christian values, compared with 5 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats. Oddly enough, Obama seems to score better among NRA members, 37 percent of whom thought he was a good Christian, suggesting his avoiding of gun control issues might be paying dividends in at least one regard. (Either that or NRA members lean more libertarian than either Republicans or tea partiers and are overrepresented in the "never go to church" category.)
NRA members, though, did not think so highly of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; only 4 percent thought she had strong Christian values, while 6 percent of tea partiers did. O'Leary also had Zogby ask the question about Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. Romney scored better on the "Christian values" scale than Obama—about 60 percent of tea partiers, Republicans and NRA members thought he had good Christian values—but he was roundly trounced by Palin, who is apparently the most righteous of the bunch, even if Democrats don't see her that way. While 86 percent of tea partiers and 78 percent of NRA members believe Palin's Christian values are strong, only 28 percent of Democrats do. Christian values are apparently in the eye of the beholder.