With the release of President Obama’s long form birth certificate on Wednesday, many are wondering why the White House decided to even bother wading into the birther debate long after it had been proven to be a red herring.
One reason, as noted by Obama in a press conference Tuesday morning, is that while the birther controversy is largely considered a fringe issue, it’s actually mainstream within Republican ranks, according to several recent polls.
TPM SLIDESHOW: There’s The Birth Certificate: TPM’s Best Of The BirthersIn a New York Times/CBS poll released last week, a 45% plurality of Republicans said Obama was not born in America. Only one third (33%) of Republicans said Obama was born in America, while an additional 22% said they weren’t sure.
Similarly, a PPP poll in February showed that a 51% majority of Republican registered voters nationwide thought Obama was born elsewhere. In that poll, 38% of Republicans said Obama was in fact born in America, while 21% said they were unsure.
Birtherism became such a prominent issue within Republican ranks that eccentric real estate tycoon turned reality show host Donald Trump quickly rocketed to the top of GOP primary polls by flogging the birth certificate issue. Earlier this month, a PPP poll showed Trump actually leading the entire GOP field by a wide nine-point margin.
Skeptics have been crying shenanigans for years about Obama’s citizenship. But with the release today of Obama’s long form birth certificate, perhaps that will finally put the issue to rest.