Dumb yet fascinating. Obama’s birth certificate won’t be an issue in the primaries (let’s hope) so how the big three rank is unimportant — unless Birtherism is actually a proxy for other political dynamics, in which case this becomes an interesting little data point. But if it’s a proxy, what’s it a proxy for? Level of education? Regional identification? Something else? My hunch is that the further right you go, the more Birther-y you get, not because you’re any more credulous on the merits of the birth-certificate argument but because the more adamant your opposition to Obama’s agenda, the more desperately you want him out of office. PPP comes to a similar conclusion:

Not surprisingly only 16% of [Birthers] approve of Obama’s job performance while 75% disapprove. I think Mike Littwin might have hit on a pretty good point in the Denver Post today, which is that some of the people who purport to be birthers might not really believe it but that it’s shorthand for their general unhappiness with the President.

Romney’s favorability among the group tops out at just 43 percent compared to 57 percent approval among non-Birthers. That’s the biggest spread of any of the four candidates mentioned in the poll (Mitt, Huck, Palin, Gingrich), and big enough that PPP declares, “I mean this with all sincerity — Romney’s lack of popularity with the birther wing of the GOP really could scuttle his chances at the nomination in three years.” Sounds nutty, but if Birthers are a proxy for “true conservatives” — i.e. southern, populist, fiscally and socially conservative — then yeah, he’s got problems. In fact, Huckabee and Palin outpoll him among Birthers and non-Birthers alike.

For the record, and further to my theory, the ideological split among Birthers is 69 percent conservative and 30 percent moderate versus 46/53 among non-Birthers. Oh, and as for who tops the field among Birthers: Guess. Exit stat: “63% of all Americans with a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin are birthers. Same thing with 53% of those who like Gingrich, 50% who view Huckabee positively, and 44% for Romney.”