The Bergdahl prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of the Taliban Five was a clear indication that President Obama is renewing his push to close Guantanamo Bay detention center. However, with the president’s approval rating on foreign policy falling to historic lows, this agenda is unlikely to help his overall numbers recover, let alone his foreign policy numbers.
The reason is simple. The closing of Guantanamo Bay remains a radical left position in America. In fact, even though the anti-Guantanamo crowd is loud, they have been in the minority since Obama first made the issue a central campaign promise. A June 13 Gallup poll shows just 29 percent of Americans support closing the terrorist detention camp and moving its prisoners to U.S. prisons, while 66 percent oppose doing so. Ideology is the most predictive factor when determining a respondent’s answer, not party.
Even though Republicans are more likely than Democrats to oppose closing Guantanamo Bay, the majority of Democrats remain opposed, once again leaving a radical fringe element on left in a small minority. In the latest Gallup poll, Democrats offered their lowest level of support since 2007, when the question was first posed to Americans. Now, just 41 percent of the president’s own party support him and the radical left on the issue, while 54 percent oppose them.
Historically, Democrats have shown a greater propensity to change their position. In one previous Gallup poll, Democrats were split on the issue more closely than now, with just 2 points separating those who oppose and those who support the idea. On the other hand, the trend among Republicans and independents has remained rather consistent.
A small but persistent (likely libertarian-leaning) number of Republicans say they favor closure, with 16 percent saying so in 2007 and only 13 percent in the latest survey. Independents have mirrored Republicans on the issue, though they have been demonstrating a higher level of support for closure throughout the same period, 37 and 30 percent.
Similarly, a recent Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 27 percent of likely voters say the prison in Cuba should be closed, which was up slightly from 23 percent in April of last year. However, that number is dramatically down from the 44 percent in January of 2009 when President Obama first announced his plan to do so.
Further, according to the same Rasmussen survey, 54 percent say the Guantanamo prison should not be closed, while a sizable 47 percent also say the U.S. is safer due to the detention of terrorists in the Cuba-based prison.
Worth mentioning, as we’ve previously noted, Rasmussen Reports employs polling methods that are dubious, at best. Prior to the 2012 presidential election, under Scott Rasmussen, the firm favored Republican candidates and issue polls favored Republican positions by more 5 percent more than 75 percent of time. After the embarrassing election results, the polling firm relieved the man whose name the company bears, and has now moved wildly to the left in election prediction and issue polling.
That being said, Gallup is a far more trustworthy and consistent firm.
Excluding the recently released Taliban Five, there are 149 terrorist detainees remaining at the facility. The Obama administration, right now, is attempting to craft a plan to transfer many more on a case-by-case basis. Also, the administration plans to hold and try Achmed Abu Khatallah, the only apprehended terrorist responsible for the attacks on the Benghazi consulate, somewhere within the United States. However, not only does Obama not have the support of the American people on this issue, but he doesn’t even have the support of his own party.