American voters approve of President Obama’s recent decision to resume U.S. military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Still, views are split on whether Obama owes former President George W. Bush an apology for first harshly criticizing Bush’s policy on Guantanamo, and then later essentially adopting it.
These are some of the findings from a Fox News poll released Thursday.
READ THE RESULTS (PDF)
By a 51-25 percent margin, voters approve of the president’s recent reversal on his Gitmo policy, which restarts U.S. military tribunals for terrorist detainees held there. Nearly one voter in four has no opinion on the policy change (23 percent).
A 56 percent majority of Republicans approves of the resumption of military tribunals at Gitmo, as do about half of independents (49 percent) and Democrats (48 percent).
More than two-thirds of those considering themselves part of the Tea Party movement approve of the president’s policy reversal (67 percent).
The poll asked whether President Obama's reversal merits an apology to the architect of the Guantanamo Bay policy, former President George W. Bush. During the presidential campaign and his first years in office, Obama criticized Bush for his Gitmo policy.
Opinion on the appropriateness of an apology is fairly sharply divided: 46 percent say yes, Obama owes Bush an apology for those past criticisms, while 50 percent say no. More than two-thirds of Republicans (68 percent) think Obama should apologize to Bush, while almost as many Democrats disagree (66 percent).
A 54 percent majority of independents does not think Obama owes Bush an apology.
Radicalization of Muslim Americans
The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security recently held hearings dealing with the radicalization of Muslim-Americans. The new poll found nearly half of voters (49 percent) are concerned about radicalization -- and almost as many are not concerned (45 percent).
Republicans (68 percent) are much more likely than independents (40 percent) and Democrats (37 percent) to be concerned about radicalization.
In general, most voters -- 65 percent -- think Islam is a peaceful religion and that a small number of Muslim individuals are responsible for violence.
One voter in four thinks members of Islam are more prone toward violence and extremism due to their religious teachings (25 percent).
Democrats (74 percent) are much more likely than Republicans (55 percent) and Tea Partiers (47 percent) to think Islam is essentially a peaceful religion. Independents fall in between (66 percent).
Nearly half (47 percent) of Tea Partiers think members of the Islamic religion are more prone toward violence, as do 40 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats.
Majorities of Catholics (66 percent), Protestants (63 percent) and white Born-Again Christians (55 percent) believe Islam is a peaceful faith.
Even with the concern many Americans voice about radicalization of Muslim-Americans, this is not the top domestic terrorist concern. By a wide 49-32 percent margin, more voters think a terrorist attack in their area will come from an anti-government American fanatic than a radical Muslim-American.
Almost two-thirds of voters (64 percent) are concerned about terrorist attacks right now, which is essentially unchanged from polling conducted over the last two years.
Additional Findings from the Poll:
Opinion splits evenly on the top priority on the issue of immigration. Some 43 percent think it is more important to secure the country’s borders first, while at the same time 42 percent think the priority should be to pass new legislation dealing with illegal immigrants already in the United States.
Voters who are part of the Tea Party movement, Republicans and those living in rural areas of the country are the most likely to say securing the borders needs to happen first. Democrats, independents, Northeasterners and young voters are among the most likely to say the country should first deal with the illegal immigrants already here.
Another issue that divides the electorate is national identification cards. Almost half think it’s a good idea to require U.S. citizens to carry them because it could provide additional protection against terrorists and illegal immigration. The other half think requiring ID cards is a bad idea because a national database on U.S. citizens would be an intrusion on individual rights.
Women are more inclined to say national ID cards are a good idea by 50-44 percent. Men think the cards are a bad idea by 52-43 percent.
Fifty-two percent of Republicans think ID cards are a good idea, while an equal number of Democrats say bad idea (52 percent).
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 913 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 14 to March 16. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.