Poll: Americans oppose closing Gitmo 2-1, relocating detainees to US 3-1

posted at 1:35 pm on June 2, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

USA Today publishes a curious poll today, one that gives conservatives a good talking point but with a gaping hole in the numbers.  According to their numbers, Americans believe closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay will weaken national security by a 2-1 margin.  The bad news?  Undecideds apparently outnumber opponents:

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to closing the detention center for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay and moving some of the detainees to prisons on U.S. soil, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

By more than 2-1, those surveyed say Guantanamo shouldn’t be closed. By more than 3-1, they oppose moving some of the accused terrorists housed there to prisons in their own states.

The findings underscore the difficult task President Obama faces in convincing those at home that he should follow through on his campaign promise to close the prison in Cuba, especially in the absence of a plan of where the prisoners would go.

But that 2-1 number is almost a plurality of respondents:

In the survey, Americans were inclined to accept the argument by Cheney and former president George W. Bush that the detention center had made the United States safer. By 40%-18%, they said the prison had strengthened national security rather than weakened it.

Those who want the prison to remain open feel more strongly on the subject that those who want to close it. A 54% majority of those polled say the prison shouldn’t be closed, and that they’ll be upset if the administration moves forward to close it.

The 40%-18% split leaves 42% apparently undecided on the issue of whether closing Gitmo would weaken national security.  At this point, with years of debate over Gitmo, how can almost half of the respondents not have an opinion on it?  While the Right can legitimately point to the 2-1 split among those who have an opinion, the 42% undecided is one of the highest numbers I’ve ever seen on a national issue of such a high profile.

Perhaps Dick Cheney’s outspoken endorsement of the position keeps people from signing onto it.  Without a doubt, Obama’s popularity far exceeds that of Cheney.  People may have some cognitive dissonance in explicitly adopting Cheney’s position, but as the poll numbers on the general question of Gitmo shows, a majority clearly agrees with it, despite Obama’s popularity.

This polls adds to the evidence that Barack Obama has lost the national debate with Dick Cheney, and that he may want to quit having it.  He may remain personally popular, but as these numbers show, that won’t stay the case for long if he closes Gitmo and brings the terrorists to the US.


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Comments

The Nutroots are the only ones who care about closing Gitmo. The average Obama voter just wanted a “cool” black President but still doesn’t like terrorists.

Speedwagon82 on June 2, 2009 at 1:39 PM

At this point, with years of debate over Gitmo, how can almost half of the respondents not have an opinion on it?

But I bet they could name every contestant on reality television shows. Sad, really.

Vashta.Nerada on June 2, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Just install Warcraft on those laptops. We’ll never hear from them again.

BobMbx on June 2, 2009 at 1:41 PM

All the cool kids want to vote present.

rw on June 2, 2009 at 1:41 PM

At this point, with years of debate over Gitmo, how can almost half of the respondents not have an opinion on it?

Afraid of being called a racist if they answer truthfully?

Knucklehead on June 2, 2009 at 1:42 PM

Obama’s going to run from this issue like Oprah from a Slimfast shake.

Chuck Schick on June 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM

98 percent could name 0-bama’s puppy.

Cicero43 on June 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM

At this point, with years of debate over Gitmo, how can almost half of the respondents not have an opinion on it?

Misprint?

Or, most likely, respondents answer: “what’s a Gitmo?”.

tru2tx on June 2, 2009 at 1:44 PM

Are 42% undecided? The story does not say that. Maybe that unknown 42% is some other version of no, do not close Gitmo and do not bring terrorists into the US. How were the questions worded?

Vince on June 2, 2009 at 1:47 PM

98 percent could name 0-bama’s puppy.

Cicero43 on June 2, 2009 at 1:43 PM

He has a puppy?

“what’s a Gitmo?”.

tru2tx on June 2, 2009 at 1:44 PM

It’s a request for more of something, as in “Gitmo dat fo da chiddrens.”

BobMbx on June 2, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Cheney 2
Obama 0

lavell12 on June 2, 2009 at 1:49 PM

Taking bets, that Obama will do exactly the opposite, to once again convey the message that…. he won!

capejasmine on June 2, 2009 at 1:50 PM

By more than 3-1, they oppose moving some of the accused terrorists housed there to prisons in their own states.

A 54% majority of those polled say the prison shouldn’t be closed, and that they’ll be upset if the administration moves forward to close it.

If 54% is “more than 3-1”, then those in favor of moving Gitmo prisoners to their own states is less than 18%. Obama’s policies are only supported by about 18% of the population.

Obama is up against a huge NIMBY problem here–nobody wants those prisoners in their own states, not even residents of foreign countries from which they came.

Obama wanted to “fulfill a campaign promise” by announcing the closing of Gitmo the second day of his Presidency, but he forgot the elephant in the room–WHERE DO WE SEND THE PRISONERS? Even the Democrats in Congress don’t want to deal with them.

But, knowing Obama, he will probably just let the anniversary of his Executive Order slip quietly by while the prisoners remain in Gitmo, then blame Congress for not funding the closing. After all, THEY need to be re-elected in 2010, not Obama. It’s all about the O.

Steve Z on June 2, 2009 at 1:50 PM

We’re getting a few very curious poll results right now…not sure what to make of it yet. The one about Americans no liking muslim countries is another.

AUINSC on June 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Don’t look now, but the FBI is about to arrest Washington DC!

Mueller told the luncheon gathering that the agency had 1,300 securities fraud cases, including many Ponzi schemes. The FBI was investigating more than 580 corporate fraud cases, he said.

Oh they mean private ponzi schemes, not federal ones.

lorien1973 on June 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Gitmizzle to your shizzle…So, 42% of the respondents have no clue?

…..And in other news, 42% of Americans, for the first time in their adult lives, are proud of their country because it was brilliant enough to acquire a auto company.

HornetSting on June 2, 2009 at 1:56 PM

LGF voters

tomas on June 2, 2009 at 1:56 PM

a auto company.

AN auto company.

Shizzle.

HornetSting on June 2, 2009 at 1:58 PM

OT but I find this funny/sad. Tonight on NBC is “Inside the Obozo White House” with Brian Williams and on ABC is a two hour program on the global warming/climate change hoax. GOOD GRIEF!!!!!

txag92 on June 2, 2009 at 1:59 PM

The Nutroots are the only ones who care about closing Gitmo. The average Obama voter just wanted a “cool” black President but still doesn’t like terrorists.

Speedwagon82 on June 2, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Nutshell.

BuckeyeSam on June 2, 2009 at 2:02 PM

When the American people can be induced to think soberly about the right questions, they come to the right answers. This is what the Left fears the most, and why they raise a storm of sound and fury to prevent reason from being heard, and indeed to get people unaccustomed to listening to any reason, even their own. It is why we must hammer reason home, over and over again, with things that ordinary people cannot deny, thing that cannot be hidden by populist illusion and posturing.

njcommuter on June 2, 2009 at 2:03 PM

They probably screwed up the question arrangement.

If you ask the question in a vaccume: “All else being equal, would you like for Gitmo to close?” A bunch of people are going to say yes?

But if you parse that question right next to the only viable ALTERNATIVE, most people are going to figure it out.

And then the huge number of “undecideds” are just people who’d rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend you didn’t ask the question.

logis on June 2, 2009 at 2:03 PM

No one really likes what Obama wants. Him being elected getting more confusing every day.

the_nile on June 2, 2009 at 2:04 PM

OT but I find this funny/sad. Tonight on NBC OBC-I is “Inside the Obozo White House” with Brian Williams and on ABC OBC-II is a two hour program on the global warming/climate change hoax. GOOD GRIEF!!!!!

txag92 on June 2, 2009 at 1:59 PM

FIFY.

Meanwhile, Katie Couric is reportedly crying inconsolably and stamping her feet in her dressing room because her network, OBS, doesn’t have a comparable swoonfest.

BuckeyeSam on June 2, 2009 at 2:06 PM

They are vague and when something happens remotely beneficial (to him)…he has the press to run with it. Clinton did the same thing…or they did the same for him.

The initial roll of the press was to prove Bush or republicans wrong or at fault, while disproving any allegation against a democrat.

tomas on June 2, 2009 at 2:08 PM

How do almost half of the respondents not know enough to make a decision either way?

Simple. They don’t talk about Gitmo all that much on American Idol and Dancing With the Stars.

Red Cloud on June 2, 2009 at 2:12 PM

This is just because of right-wing fear-mongering.

Or at least that’s what Obama seemed to be implying in his anti-Cheney address.

juliesa on June 2, 2009 at 2:14 PM

maybe those undecideds are Democrats who don’t want to say what they really think?

Phoenician on June 2, 2009 at 2:28 PM

I’ll bet that if we tell them that we are going to move some of the GITMO guests to a jail nearby, an overwhelming majority of the fence sitters will come to the right side.

El Coqui on June 2, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Can’t believe that 25% want these crazies in America. How about Nancy Pelosi’s back yard?

MaiDee on June 2, 2009 at 2:51 PM

42% “undecided” is two-fold:
a) those questioned aren’t being honest and don’t make a decision, for the reasons many here have stated.
b) its really easy to muddy waters with a large % of “undecided” for pollsters. Instead of doing their job to get a definitive answer for a more accurate poll – they choose to add them as a net total, which btw – skews the standard deviation – which isn’t represented by +/- 3…

I am amazed at the blatant fraud of pollsters today concerning permutations and computations…

Odie1941 on June 2, 2009 at 2:57 PM

I continue to push forward that people who are normal and not into all the right-wing/left-wing stuff really do know that Bush policies protected us.

We still want that.

That doesn’t mean we liked him.

AnninCA on June 2, 2009 at 3:15 PM

I am all about fairness. Let them swim. Pro Choice Swim or stay.

seven on June 2, 2009 at 3:19 PM

I’m curious where the Republican “moderates” stand on this issue. I bet their minds get blown when there are unexpected (to them anyway) shifts in popular opinion. They say we are supposed to “moderate” everything, so I assume there was a moderate position on this.

Now which position was the right-winger conservatives suppose to take on this issue to have been “moderate”. Would that still be the “moderate” position today? Or do moderates blow with the wind without taking an actual principled stand?

Just admit it. A moderate Republican is really just taking stands slightly right of a moonbat.

nottakingsides on June 2, 2009 at 3:49 PM

This whole “closing Gitmo” meme is getting dangerously close to abrogating Geneva…with the direct result that once we pass that gate, any other nation on earth can adapt, change, or disregard Geneva for any reason at any time.

The series of Geneva Agreements were hammered out after lengthy discussions, following major wars, and an intimate examination of the laws of land warfare and the treatment of prisoners gathered on the battlefield. It was the original intent of nations signatory to Geneva that state actors would regard the fair and proper treatment of actual military members captured to be reciprocal. reciprocity being the key underlying ideal sought when Geneva was hammered out.

Now, we have a different rubric…non-state actors…and these are covered under Geneva as well. Non-state actors are bandits, saboteurs, and brigands, and are to be afforded under Geneva a simple choice of cigarette and a blindfold, if desired, prior to execution on the battlefield at the direction of the local commander.

Granting such a legal process in a civil court makes it very very easy for any nation to round up members of our armed forces and subjecting them to civil trials, and incarceration or execution depending on the whim of whatever nation finds it best to ignore Geneva and wing it, much as the Obama Adm,inistration appears to be winging it regarding non-state actors captured on the battlefield.

Most Americans have no clue as to the parameters of Geneva. Most Americans have no clue as to the legalities of dealing with bandits, brigands, saboteurs…and yes, terrorists…and by our collective ignorance we will imperil our armed forces members far more than we will serve to protect them.

This is one Pandora’s Box I’d much rather see not opened, and certainly not opened because of the “feelings” of a generally ignorant American populace.

coldwarrior on June 2, 2009 at 4:16 PM

This polls adds to the evidence that Barack Obama has lost the national debate with Dick Cheney

Allahpundit, please take the above as definitive proof of the the existence of God!

Bruno Strozek on June 2, 2009 at 4:28 PM

See this is what happens when you put someone in the White House that should be in Gitmo.

elduende on June 2, 2009 at 4:28 PM

This is just one more example where people say they like Obama, but they don’t like his policy.

I think that if the media actually turned on Obama just a little bit people might follow suit. Right now there seems to be a gap between what they think and what they feel.

Terrye on June 2, 2009 at 5:31 PM

I wonder what per cent of those undecideds even understood the damn question? They probably think Gitmo’s a casino in Vegas.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 2, 2009 at 7:24 PM