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Opposition to Bergdahl POW Swap Rises to 54%

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Public opinion is shifting away from support for the prisoner swap that brought U.S. POW Bowe Bergdahl home from Afghanistan.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 54% of Likely U.S. Voters now disagree with the decision to release five Taliban leaders from the Guantanamo terrorist prison camp in exchange for the one U.S. military prisoner of war being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.  That’s up 11 points from 43% a week ago.

Just 29% agree with the Obama administration’s decision to make the prisoner swap, an 11-point drop from 40% last week. Sixteen percent (16%) are still undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Support for the prisoner exchange remains unchanged at 29% even if turns out Bergdahl was a U.S. military deserter who was subsequently captured by the Taliban. However, opposition drops six points to 48% given that possibility, with 23% undecided.

Just 24% of voters have even a somewhat favorable opinion of Bergdahl. Fifty-six percent (56%) view him unfavorably. This includes five percent (5%) with a Very Favorable view of the former POW and 28% with a Very Unfavorable one. Twenty percent (20%) have either never heard of him or are undecided.

Congressional leaders from both parties have complained about the administration’s failure to consult them before making the prisoner exchange, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has now admitted that was a mistake. Fifty-seven percent (57%) agree that the administration should have consulted with congressional leaders beforehand, but 28% disagree. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 10-11, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Only 16% of voters in last week’s survey favor hostage negotiations in general with terrorist groups like the Taliban, but 42% support U.S. negotiations with the Taliban to help bring the war in Afghanistan to an end.

President Obama recently announced plans to withdraw all but 9,800 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and fully withdraw troops by the end of 2016. Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters believe some U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan through 2016, but nearly as many (44%) think the United States should withdraw all troops by the end of this year.

Eighty-three percent (83%) have been following recent news stories about the prisoner exchange at least somewhat closely, with 53% who have been following Very Closely.

Women and voters under 40 are less opposed to the Bergdahl/Taliban trade than men and older voters are.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans and 59% of voters not affiliated with either major party disagree with the prisoner exchange. Democrats by a 44% to 31% margin agree with the administration’s decision, but 25% more are not sure.

Democrats are also much less critical of Bergdahl than GOP and unaffiliated voters are. Seventy-five percent (75%) of Republicans and 60% of unaffiliated voters believe the administration should have consulted with congressional leaders before making the exchange, but just 39% of Democrats agree.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of the Political Class agree with the decision to trade the five Taliban leaders for Bergdahl. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Mainstream voters disagree.

Only 27% of voters who agree with the prisoner swap think the administration should have consulted with Congress beforehand. Among those who disagree, 79% believe congressional leaders should have been consulted first.

Belief that America is winning the War on Terror and is safer than before the 9/11 terrorist attacks have fallen to their lowest levels in three years.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters think America’s political leaders send U.S. soldiers into harm’s way too often.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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