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Poll Shows Public Divided Over Bergdahl Release Deal

The first poll released in the wake of the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the controversy that has arisen because of it shows that the nation is divided on whether or not the deal was a good idea:

Voters are split over the Obama administration’s swap of five Taliban prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay for the release of Army. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

According to a Fox News poll released Wednesday night, 47 percent disapprove of the trade that took place over the weekend. Another 45 percent approve, while 8 percent do not know.

Democrats are the only group in which a majority, 59 percent, approve of the trade. Another 32 percent of Democrats disapprove.

Sixty-two percent of Republicans disapprove, while 31 percent approve.

Among independents, 49 percent disapprove, and 41 percent approve.

The vast majority of every group, however, believes that “negotiating with terrorist groups” will encourage those groups to hold more soldiers hostage in the future.

The United States released the prisoners to the country of Qatar, which acted as an intermediary between the U.S. and the Taliban in the negotiations.

Overall, 84 percent of voters are concerned that the negotiation could lead to more hostages being taken. Only 15 percent are not concerned.

Ninety-three percent of Republicans and 83 percent of independents expressed concern. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats felt the same.

As more information comes out, of course, these numbers could very well change. However, I would imagine that this is far from what the White House expected the reaction to this release deal would be. But, then, if you screw up the messaging on something like the release of an American P.O.W. then you probably deserve whatever happens.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Democrats are the only group in which a majority, 59 percent, approve of the trade. Another 32 percent of Democrats disapprove.
    Sixty-two percent of Republicans disapprove, while 31 percent approve.
    Among independents, 49 percent disapprove, and 41 percent approve.

    Well, I have to admit, it’s “Mission Accomplished” for the Conservative Media Complex.

    Republicans complained that they were consulted, they quickly “Swift Boated” Bergdahl, and here we are – a national crisis has been created.

    Also, we see that 32% of Democrats are DINOs, 31% of Republicans are RINOs and a majority of so-called “Independents” are actually Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. KM says:

    But, then, if you screw up the messaging on something like the release of an American P.O.W. then you probably deserve whatever happens.

    Kinda bitchy, Doug. There shouldn’t have to BE messaging on releasing a POW. For better or worse, an American is home and not in the hands of the enemy anymore.

    That there needs to be optics on this at all speaks to how nasty politics in this country have gotten. Shame on all of us.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  3. al-Ameda:

    Republicans aren’t the only ones on Capitol Hill complaining about the Obama Administration’s failure to comply with the law.

    And, they would have been a lot better off if they had not sent Susan Rice on the Sunday shows to claim that Bergdahl had served his nation with distinction when they already knew the story behind his disappearance.

    They’ve got nobody to blame for this but themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  4. rudderpedals says:

    Diplomats are supposed to be diplomatic. Susan Rice was and remains a diplomat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Republicans aren’t the only ones on Capitol Hill complaining about the Obama Administration’s failure to comply with the law.
    They’ve got nobody to blame for this but themselves.

    I generally agree, however I do marvel at how quickly Republicans “Swift Boated” Bergdahl.
    I’m sure we will get another permanent investigation out of this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. @rudderpedals:

    If by “diplomatic” you mean “saying things that are entirely untrue,” I agree.

    I’m glad that Bergdahl is home, but it was utterly absurd of her to lionize him the way that she did given what was already known at the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  7. KM says:

    The vast majority of every group, however, believes that “negotiating with terrorist groups” will encourage those groups to hold more soldiers hostage in the future.

    Do you know what message NOT negotiating sends in the real world?

    Kill them all. There’s no point in survivors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  8. stonetools says:

    But, then, if you screw up the messaging on something like the release of an American P.O.W. then you probably deserve whatever happens.

    Indeed, they did screw up the messaging. But then they were not prepared for the right wing BS machine to do a complete 180 and go from pressuring him to free the last American POW “by any means necessary” to attacking him for exchanging a “deserter” for “hard core terrorists.”
    Maybe they should have been ready for that breathtaking level of hypocrisy (Certainly, I would have been , given the past six years) . But Obama is the kind of genial, naive fellow who doesn’t think he has enemies who will oppose him no matter what, even if he does what they say, so….
    As for Ms. Rice, they should have found another messenger. I note its par for the course these days to refer to virtually any soldier who serves in combat as a “hero”, and she was following that misguided protocol. It’s unfortunate she did. Maybe she should swear off the Sunday talk shows.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  9. CB says:

    And, they would have been a lot better off if they had not sent Susan Rice on the Sunday shows to claim that Bergdahl had served his nation with distinction when they already knew the story behind his disappearance.

    I don’t entirely disagree with you on Bergdahl in general, Doug, but I cannot believe that we have ANOTHER scandal borne of talking points on Sunday shows.

    We’re a nation of idiots, governed by assh*les.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. Todd says:

    These days all most “issue” polls really tell you is where people are most likely getting their information from … and/or what their preferred ideology is. Many of the very same people who are blasting the the President for securing Bergdahl’s release were in the not so distant past blasting the President for “leaving him behind”. In other words, they don’t disapprove of any specific thing the President does, they disapprove of everything he has done, is doing and will do in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  11. Tillman says:

    @Todd:

    Many of the very same people who are blasting the the President for securing Bergdahl’s release were in the not so distant past blasting the President for “leaving him behind”.

    Can I just be the first (or maybe third, or nth) to admit I had no clue who this guy was before the Rose Garden press conference? If you had an “informed” opinion about getting him back before he was gotten back, that betrays how deep into the woods you were, whether those woods were blue or red or some crazy libertarian orange.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. stonetools says:

    Susan Rice did say one true thing Sunday:

    “In fact what we had to do and what did do, consistent with the president’s constitutional authority as commander in chief, is prioritize the health of Sergeant Bergdahl,” she said. “We had reason to be concerned that this was an urgent and an acute situation, that his life could have been at risk. We did not have 30 days to wait. And had we waited and lost him, I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”

    You can take it to the bank that all the people now talking about “the law” and “how bad the deal is” would be giving the Administration holy hell if it had delayed the returnof Bierdahl because of “the law” or because it was holding out for a “better deal” and Bierdahl died. That’s as certain as 2+2=4. Better the Administration take the heat for getting Bierdahl back safe, I say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. beth says:

    I saw a tweet yesterday congratulating the President on turning Bergdahl into the “most hated American soldier ever”. This is how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone. It’s also pretty shameful the way everyone seems to think Rice shouldn’t be allowed to do her job just because the Republican noise machine insists she did something wrong on Benghazi (I do not share that view). Do we not remember how quickly Shirley Sherrod was thrown under the bus? So who’s next? The one thing I do not like about this administration is it’s tendency to cower from any attack from the right instead of standing up and defending itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  14. wr says:

    For years Republicans have been screaming that Obama should do everything under the sun to free this man, including exchancing prisoners.

    Then Obama did it.

    And Republicans started screaming that he is a traitor and it’s outrageous that he was freed.

    Oh, sorry. Not just Republicans. The very same Republicans who had been screaming at Obama to get him freed.

    So, yeah, Doug. The problem is with Obama’s messaging.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  15. James Pearce says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “had not sent Susan Rice on the Sunday shows”

    Who cares what Susan Rice said on the Sunday shows no one watches…….I mean, we’re back to this?

    Echoes of Benghazi……

    (Also, I’m not sure the public is divided so much as one side is being completely obnoxious and the other is being completely cowed. I’m not sticking up for Bergdahl, that’s for sure. It would be wiser to wave raw meat in front of a rabid dog.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. Matt Bernius says:

    @wr:
    To your point on the fast reverse face, I give you:
    http://gawker.com/angry-conservatives-forgot-their-old-angry-tweets-suppo-1586150981

    [h/t C. Calvin]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @beth:

    The one thing I do not like about this administration is it’s tendency to cower from any attack from the right instead of standing up and defending itself.

    The only advantage that used to be gleaned from the tactic of letting attacks from the Right go unanswered is that sometimes the attacks were so egregiously stupid and preposterous that the doctrine of “Res Ipsa Loquitur” applied – the stupidity spoke for itself. Well that used to be the case. These days the public just accepts as truth whatever goes unanswered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  18. stonetools says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Even more pathetic than private citizens are the Congresspersons who initially praised the deal but who are now scrubbing their Twitter accounts and websites after they got the latest memo:

    GOP Sen. Thad Cochran, headed to a runoff with a Tea Party challenger in Mississippi, is the latest lawmaker to delete tweets and statements from his online footprint that celebrated the now-controversial return of Bergdahl. The Army sergeant was released by the Taliban on Saturday after five years in captivity, in a prisoner swap that also freed five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Politwoops, a project of the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, collects deleted tweets and shows Cochran and Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., scrubbing their Twitter accounts. “Welcome home, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl,” read the deleted tweet from Cochran. “A grateful America thanks you for your service.”

    GOP Reps. Lee Terry of Nebraska and Mark Amodei of Nevada also did some scrubbing, according to Mashable. Terry removed a statement from his website that called Bergdahl a “national hero.” Larry Farnsworth, the congressman’s communications director, told Mashable that the lawmaker learned of “some things that are extremely troubling” and believed it was “appropriate” to take down the Bergdahl statement

    Then there is this jackalope:

    Back in 2009, not long after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was taken prisoner in Afghanistan, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) signed onto a letter along with 22 other members of Congress to denounce a Fox News analyst who described the soldier as a deserter.

    But this week, after President Obama negotiated an exchange to get Bergdahl back, Hunter found himself on Fox News making the same accusations he once found so detestable.

    Compared to these people, Rice is a model of consistency and truthtelling.
    To be honest, I do understand why Obama was caught flatfooted by this complete turnaround. Still, he should have had a Plan B. I mean its not the first time the Republicans have supported a particular action, then went 180 on it once Obama embraced it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  19. Todd says:

    @Tillman:

    If you had an “informed” opinion about getting him back before he was gotten back, that betrays how deep into the woods you were

    Until recently, my awareness of Private Bergdahl’s situation was pretty much limited to official briefings (that there was a POW still out there) during my own time in Afghanistan. lol, when it comes to political BS, I try to stay as far away from “the woods” as I can. Heck, I don’t even stop by this blog very often anymore. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. stonetools says:

    Brian Buetler thinks the Republicans may already be overreaching on this, and that a backlash may develop to the backlash:

    That was a moral and political error. It precipitated a deluge of ugly actions and pronouncements by conservatives and some elected Republicans, who couldn’t resist the temptation to seize political advantage by feeding the right’s reflexive impression that a massive scandal must be lying just below the surface. The problem, as is so often the case, is that the words and deeds that energize the political right strike other people as vicious and unsupportable.

    Bill O’Reilly attacked Bergdahl’s father for looking like a Muslim. Joe Scarborough criticized his parenting. Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens handed the opening paragraphs of his Monday entry over to an anonymous former Special Forces operator calling for Bergdahl’s death by firing squad. Officials in Bergdahl’s hometown had to cancel a welcome home ceremony after being inundated with hateful right wing phone calls. And don’t forget Benghazi. This political cartoon from the Salt Lake Tribune makes the same point.

    The right wing better hope that what Berghdahl’s teammates said about him was gospel, and that there isn’t a sympathetic explanation for his actions. Even if there isn’t, the character assassination by the right and the attack on his parents can’t be going down well with the American people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. James Pearce says:

    @stonetools:

    Even if there isn’t, the character assassination by the right and the attack on his parents can’t be going down well with the American people.

    I wish that were so.

    The righties in my circle are not only eating up the character assassination, they’re indulging in it themselves. They’ve already accepted the deserter charges as gospel, which means anything contrary is already heresy.

    We’re not going to see the best in the American people on this one. We’re going to see the worst.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. Tillman says:

    I wonder how much of the outcry over Bergdahl is related to our upcoming midterms.

    @Todd: Ah. Well then you have a good, non-woods reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. CB says:

    @stonetools:

    Dude. It won’t matter. At this point, the truth is irrelevant. The narrative is already gospel. I mean, this stuff happens on the left, too, but I’m hard pressed to find an example as crass as this. I’m honestly open to one, if anyone has a good analog to this Bergdahl nonsense

    @Tillman:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1