Is Virginia For Birthers?

The new survey of Virginia by Public Policy Polling (D) finds that only 53% of likely voters in the state think that President Obama was born in the United States, compared to 24% who say he was not and another 24% who are not sure.

However, as we saw from yesterday’s PPP numbers on the gubernatorial race, the likely-voter models this year skew seriously Republican, due to greater intensity of emotions right now among the GOP. For example, this same respondent set voted 52%-41% for John McCain last year (plus a remainder who wouldn’t divulge how they voted), compared to a six-point win for Obama in Virginia in the actual election. So is this making the Birther threat look more severe than it really is?

I asked PPP communications director Tom Jensen about this factor, and he confirmed to me that it does indeed make a difference — but as it turns out, the adjusted figures aren’t much of an improvement. “If you reweight the numbers for an Obama 52-46 electorate you get 57 think he was born in the US, 21 think he wasn’t, 22 not sure,” Jensen said via e-mail. “So better than the numbers we’re showing but still a little disturbing.”

In the internals, we see these Southern McCain-voters heavily promoting Birtherism: Only 32% say Obama was born here, a 36% plurality say he was not, and 32% are not sure, compared to an 80%-8%-12% breakdown among Obama-voters.