By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
06/02/09 2:44 PM EDT
I've gotten a look inside the Gallup poll numbers showing that a majority of Americans oppose shutting down the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. The numbers are stunning. They show a strong and virtually across-the-board rejection of President Obama's proposal to close the prison.
Overall, 65 percent of those surveyed oppose shutting Gitmo, versus 32 percent who say it should be closed. According to the poll's internal numbers, large majorities of men oppose closing the prison, large majorities of women oppose it, large majorities of white people oppose it, large majorities of non-white people oppose it, people with graduate degrees oppose it, and people who didn't finish high school oppose it. Pretty much everybody.
For Obama, the key numbers are the ones that break down opinion by political party. Ninety-one percent of Republicans oppose shutting Gitmo. Sixty-eight percent of independents oppose it, too. The only group that favors shutting down the prison is Democrats, and that is by a relatively narrow 53 percent to 42 percent margin.
When virtually the entire opposition party, plus 68 percent of independents, plus 42 percent of your own party oppose something you want to do, then you're in trouble.
Another part of the poll asked respondents, "What effect do you think the Guantanamo Bay prison has had on U.S. national security? Overall, 40 percent say the prison has strengthened national security, while 37 percent say it has not had much effect at all. Just 18 percent say the existence of Guantanamo has weakened national security.
Among Republicans, five percent say Gitmo has weakened national security. Among independents, just 14 percent say the same, and among Democrats, just 33 percent say the prison has weakened national security. That means that the overwhelming majority of Americans reject the key argument the Obama White House has put forward for closing Guantanamo -- that it has weakened American national security.
Finally, Gallup asked whether, if Guantanamo were closed, respondents would favor or oppose moving some of the inmates to prisons in their state. No surprises here -- overall, 74 percent oppose having Gitmo detainees come to their state, while just 23 percent favor it. Broken down by party, 94 percent of Republicans oppose it, 78 percent of independents oppose it, and 56 percent of Democrats oppose it.
That is overwhelming opposition, and these results are devastating for the president's plan to shut down Guantanamo.