The Republican Party has engaged in a decades-long project to portray any Democratic electoral gains as fraudulent, chipping away at the legitimacy of any Democratic politician. A new poll by a Democratic firm shows that these efforts have paid off.

Public Policy Polling finds that a majority of Republicans believe that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama.

PPP’s newest national survey finds that a 52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately. Clearly the ACORN card really is an effective one to play with the voters who will decide whether Hoffman gets to be the Republican nominee in a possible repeat bid in 2010.

Belief in the ACORN conspiracy theory is even higher among GOP partisans than the birther one, which only 42% of Republicans expressed agreement with on our national survey in September.

Overall 62% of Americans think Obama legitimately won the election to only 26% who think ACORN stole it for him, as few Democrats or independents buy into that line of thinking.

Losing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman is resorting to this tactic in NY-23, claiming that ACORN stole his Congressional election for Democrat Bill Owens.

Though a majority of Americans believe the President legitimately won the election, the fact that so many Republicans believe in what practically every actual study has shown to be a mythical scenario of voter fraud has value for the conservative movement in delegitimizing Democratic political figures. This moves the rhetoric on the conservative side further and further to the right, as an illegitimate figure is easily demonized, and conservatives willing to believe in an fantasy “stolen election” scenario are willing to believe in all kinds of conspiracies.

This is a very dangerous scenario for the American political process.