Political Animal


April 03, 2013 1:16 PM 666 Pennsylvania Avenue

By Ed Kilgore

Since we’ve been talking off and on about the boundary-line that separates regular conservatives from the extremist fringe, and also because one of my regular topics is the intersection of politics and religion, check out this finding from a new PPP survey on subscription to conspiracy theories:

13% of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22% of Romney voters

This is a national poll, mind you, not a straw poll at some conservative evangelical clambake. Its margin-of-error is 2.8%. Extrapolated to the national electorate, it suggests that over 13 million Americans believe the President of the United States is a demonic supernatural being sent into the world to set up an infernal kingdom until it’s all washed away by the End of Days.

Now I understand all the limitations of this kind of polling. The Anti-Christ question is sprinkled in with all sorts of crazy questions about this or that odd theory (my favorite is: Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not? 4% of respondents are down with the “V hypothesis,” though the number rises to 11% among those self-identifying as “very conservative.”). Many Romney voters would be inclined to agree with anything negative said about Obama.

Still, the Anti-Christ?

Perhaps the second most-alarming result of the survey is that even after the recent heavy publicity about the lies surrounding the Iraq War, 36% of 2012 Romney voters (nearly half of those expressing an opinion) persist in thinking that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. There’s zero evidence of that, of course, but it’s hard to prove negatives to people who want to believe otherwise.

The PPP survey was conducted from March 27th through March 30, so it’s possible some respondents were influenced at least subliminally by those episodes of the TV miniseries The Bible that depicted Satan as looking more than a little like Barack Obama (and certainly a lot more than Ol’ Scratch resembled Mitt Romney). But any way you slice it, when progressives suggest on occasion that conservatives talk about Obama as though he were the Anti-Christ, it’s not all hyperbole.

UPDATE: On Twitter, TNR’s Nate Cohn reminds me to note that 19% of 2012 Romney voters are unsure whether Obama is the Anti-Christ (guess they are still reading the Book of Revelation and looking for signs). Only 59% are willing to say he’s not.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 03, 2013 1:32 PM:

    EVERYONE who doesn't believe in what these ignorant Manichean intolerant Christian dumbass douchnozzles believe, and/or who disagrees with them, is either the Anti-Christ him/her damned-self, or in league with him.

    I'd be curious to see how many of these same people thought that Bill Clinton was the Anti-Christ.
    Or, come to thing of it - Hillary.

    But, I suspect, being "Blah" doesn't help Obama in this poll.
    So, add racist to the list I provided above - maybe make that "... ignorant Manichean intolerant Christian dumbass racist douchnozzles."
    Though, that may be kind of low in the billing.

  • David in NY on April 03, 2013 1:36 PM:

    Great post title.

  • max on April 03, 2013 1:40 PM:

    But any way you slice it, when progressives suggest on occasion that conservatives talk about Obama as though he were the Anti-Christ, it’s not all hyperbole.

    Oh, I don't doubt some do. I'm pretty sure Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were candidates in the day.

    On Twitter, TNR’s Nate Cohn reminds me to note that 19% of 2012 Romney voters are unsure whether Obama is the Anti-Christ (guess they are still reading the Book of Revelation and looking for signs). Only 59% are willing to say he’s not.

    Well, I just went trolling through Google to see if anyone had polled on Bush the Younger being the Anti-Christ but all I found were crappy links. Pity. I suspect Bush would have had similar numbers on the question. (They should poll this stuff, all the time!)

    Maybe Bush would have scored higher on the lizard people thing.

    (Or the 'shadowy elite' thing. Although, c'mon people, there's not a shadowy elite, there's a right-in-your-damn-face elite going for the corporate gold. Not the same thing as the protocols of the Elders of Zion, but since that was authored by an Okhrana agent anyways...)

    ['In the end, the fine line between reality and nuttiness is so thin it often can't be found. It's all (wait for it) a social construct.']

  • T2 on April 03, 2013 1:50 PM:

    I thought Bush was the anti-christ...... You'd think invading an innocent nation and destroying it would be more "anti-christ" than trying provide every citizen access to medical care ....but what do I know.

  • joe corso on April 03, 2013 1:58 PM:

    A full consideration of the possibilities also has to take "social acceptablity bias" into account.

    How many respondents may actually think that Obama is (or might be) the anti-christ but are unwilling to say so openly?

    This is not at all a frivolous question. Many conspiracy minded people refuse to answer automated opinion polls (the conspirators may be creating a list of people to round up) and others might hesitate before answering a question that seems "dangerous" to answer.

    One interesting real-world indicator in this regard is the complete lack of push-back against the History Channel's choice of an Obama look-alike actor for the Devil in its series "The Bible" which is hugely popular among devout Christians. There has been absolutely no significant protest against what is the most vivid and widespread media portrayal of this concept.

  • T2 on April 03, 2013 2:31 PM:

    Point made Joe, but how many respondents would call Obama anything just because they hate him? I'm sure the same group would call him the new Stalin, new Hitler, new Gingrich.....well maybe not the last one.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 03, 2013 2:37 PM:

    Well, how were these questions asked? I guess to be fair they can think whatever the hell the damn well want to. For instance I like to think (not really, though) that when I die I'm going to go the after-life that re-incarnates me into a technicolor unicorn in a Lisa Frank dimension.

    Now what would be interesting is if the questions were phrased to ask what they had legitimate reason to think about the matter. And better yet a list of said proofs. I'd be seriously worried that people seriously think that they have legitimate reasons to think the crazy things that they think.

    But then, again, it doesn't really matter. Half of these folks are essentially the intellectual equivalents of root vegetables. So it ain't likely they actually distinguish between their guts and brains.

  • Mimikatz on April 03, 2013 3:12 PM:

    Pretty sure the Lizard People supporters were kidding. Really, if you were thoroughly sane and took this poll, wouldn't you go for the reptiles after all of the other nonsense? Positively comforting!

    It's the racism. Of course. Hillary was the Whore of Babylon, not the Antichrist, and Bill Clinton was enough of a Bubba for those folk to satisfy themselves with Monica and his drug running from Honduras.

    Captcha: and Bondme. Really!

  • Francis Volpe on April 03, 2013 8:43 PM:

    I've run across this argument before, and my response remains the same.

    The Anti-Christ, if I remember my Bible correctly, is someone who presents a seductive image to the world while leading it to perdition.

    In order for this proposition to succeed, the Anti-Christ must pull the wool over the eyes of even the most ardent believers in God. And I believe most people would stipulate that the most ardent believers are far more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. Certainly the most fundamentalist among the Christian cohort are disproportionately Republican.

    Yet there is agreement among ardent believers of a Republican stripe that Obama actually is this Anti-Christ. Therefore, the Anti-Christ proposition has failed, since so many of these ardent believers think they've spotted him.

    But this proposition cannot fail, since it is part of Biblical prophecy. Therefore, Obama cannot possibly be the Anti-Christ.

    Indeed, if there truly is an Anti-Christ, it would be someone who could pull the wool over they eyes of this cohort of committed Christians and Republicans. It would have to be someone who these people could not possibly suspect. Perhaps it's Roger Ailes. Or Paul Ryan. No reason it couldn't be Ronald Reagan -- why couldn't an Anti-Christ rise again the same way Christ did?