A recent survey by Public Policy Polling has found that a majority of likely GOP voters in Alabama and Mississippi believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim, despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

Of 600 Alabama Republicans surveyed, 45 percent said he is a Muslim and 41 percent answered that they were not sure what faith the president practices. In Mississippi, of 656 Republicans surveyed, 52 percent classified him as a Muslim, and 36 percent replied “not sure.”

Pollster Jim Williams told the New York Daily News that although Obama is a Christian, many conservative Republicans inexplicably refuse to believe it.

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“I don’t have an explanation for that,” said Williams. “All I can say is that we have looked at that in other places in the past and it’s never really gone away. You’re dealing with an extremely conservative portion of the electorate in two extremely conservative states.”

Both Mississippi and Alabama have become battlegrounds of the GOP primary race with candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney hoping to pull ahead of each other in the delegate count. Both candidates, for the most part, have spoken openly about their faith, while sidestepping the president’s.

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Still, last month Santorum told Fox News that Obama was “ready to jump in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood.” At a rally in Ohio weeks before, Santorum said that the White House operated on a “different theology.” When that comment raised eyebrows, a Santorum aide clarified that the senator was referring to Obama’s “radical Islamic policies.” She later said she misspoke.

Speculation over the president’s faith has dogged him throughout his initial 2008 candidacy and presidency. An August 2010 poll showed that one in five of all Americans believed he was a Muslim. When the 2010 poll was released, the White House issued a statement saying, “President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life.”

The most PPP recent poll comes on the eve of Tuesday’s primaries where both states will pick their candidate. The survey also found that more than half of Mississippi and Alabama GOP voter have a favorable view of Rush Limbaugh and more than 60 percent did not believe in evolution.

Follow Donovan X. Ramsey on Twitter at @idxr