Independents Move Closer to Republicans on Guantanamo Bay and Military TribunalsMay 4, 2010
In the year since Resurgent Republic conducted its inaugural survey in April 2009, President Obama and Democrats in Congress have seen dramatic deterioration of their public standing, driven by disaffection from Independent voters who have steadily moved toward siding with Republican policymakers on fiscal, domestic and national security policies. On most issues across the policy spectrum, Independents approach a two-to-one alignment with the conservative or Republican perspective over the liberal or Democratic perspective. That mirrors the margins for winning Republican statewide candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts in the last seven months, and indicates the potential for significant Democratic losses this fall if they do not make gains among Independents.
1. Voters say President Obama has improved America’s standing in the world. By a 50 to 45 percent margin, including a 49 to 46 percent margin among Independents, voters say the President has improved the country’s standing in the eyes of the world.
2. Just as a year ago, voters think holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay helps keep America safe rather than undermines our values by nearly a two-to-one margin. Voters agree that holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay “helps protect America by keeping terrorists in custody who would kill Americans overseas” rather than “weakens America’s moral authority and isn’t in keeping with our values” by a 60 to 32 percent margin. This result is essentially unchanged from the 58 to 33 percent margin seen last April.
3. Voters overall agree that civilian trials for suspected 9/11 terrorists are a bad idea, in opposition to the Administration’s current policy. Respondents were asked which of the following statements they agree with regarding civilian trials:
Congressman A says putting suspected 9/11 terrorists on trial in civilian courts instead of a military tribunal is a good idea, because it shows that America provides the same rights to everyone, and a visible, open trial will prove to the world any convictions are deserved.
Congressman B says putting suspected 9/11 terrorists on trial in civilian courts instead of a military tribunal is a bad idea, because it will expose confidential intelligence-gathering methods, and gives terrorists captured on the battlefield the same rights as American citizens.
Voters agree that civilian trials are a bad idea by a 56 to 36 percent margin overall, including a 61 to 32 percent margin among Independents and a 76 to 20 percent margin among Republicans (Democrats say civilian trials are a good idea by a 55 to 36 percent margin).
The following messages will resonate strongly with the American public:
1. Holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay helps protect America by keeping terrorists in custody who would kill Americans overseas.
2.Providing 9/11 terrorists an open trial in civilian court is a bad idea. It gives terrorists the same rights as American citizens and weakens our national security.