More than one in three conservative Republican voters still thinks US President Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to a Pew Research Center survey published Thursday.
Although the number of conservative Republicans who believe Obama is a Muslim stagnated between 2010 and 2012, it has more than doubled since 2008 despite the Christian church-goer's repeated affirmations of his faith.
Seventeen percent of 3,000 overall voters asked by Pew in June and July thought Obama was Muslim, the poll said. That number is up five percent from 2008 and down three percent from 2010, within the survey's margin of error.
"Our polling suggests there's a real partisan component," said senior Pew researcher Greg Smith.
Muslim American community leaders expressed concern that the lingering inability to recognize Obama's true faith showed a disturbing undercurrent in US politics.
"For seventeen percent of people to believe Obama is a Muslim shows there's a lot of fear-mongering and politicking in America," Haris Tarin from the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), told AFP.
"I hope Obama does not go out of his way to deny he's a Muslim. That reinforces the idea that Islam can be used as a slur," said Tarin, the director of the Washington office of the Muslim American advocacy group.
"When young American Muslims are aspiring to become contributing members of society like members of Congress and hopefully one day, president of the US, that puts a the thought in their minds that they are being marginalized."
Only 49% of those polled by Pew correctly identified Obama as a Christian, while another 31% said they didn't know.
Some 60% of voters correctly identified Obama's Republican opponent in the November presidential elections, Mitt Romney, as a Mormon.