A new poll from Fox News suggests that a vast majority of Americans, including Democrats, are concerned that the recent exchange of five Taliban commanders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will increase the chances that American troops will be taken hostage in the future.
The poll was conducted from June 1-3 and published Wednesday.
Eighty-four percent of the 1,006 registered voters polled said that they were concerned that the exchange would encourage terrorists to take more American soldiers hostage.
Fifty-seven percent said they were “very concerned,” while 27 percent said they were “somewhat concerned” that the exchange would pose threats in the future.
While the poll showed some partisan differences, 77 percent of Democrats said they were concerned that more hostages would be taken. Forty-five percent were “very concerned” while 32 percent were “somewhat concerned.”
Ninety-three percent of Republicans said they were concerned, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percent.
The poll suggests that the concerns for putting U.S. troops at greater risk were tempered by a feeling that Bergdahl needed to be retrieved. He had been held by the Taliban for nearly five years since disappearing on June 30, 2009.
“Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield,” President Obama said in a statement upon the exchange.
In the poll, 45 percent said they approved swapping Bergdahl for the five Taliban leaders. Forty-seven percent disapproved of the trade.
Fifty-nine percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans approved of the deal. Thirty-two percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans disapproved.
As Fox News noted, the poll was conducted before several details of Bergdahl’s disappearance had emerged, including reports of messages Bergdahl had sent his parents back home in Idaho — in which he expressed disenchantment with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. On top of that, a slew of soldiers who had served with Bergdahl have come forward in recent days, accusing him of deserting their unit in the Paktika province of Eastern Afghanistan.
Though Democrats, Republicans and many in the mainstream media have been critical of how the exchange was handled, the Obama administration has begun spinning opposition to the deal in partisan terms.
According to a Politico article published Wednesday, Obama aides are claiming that opposition to the deal is “a proxy for the hatred toward the president.”
Both Democratic and Republican politicians have expressed numerous concerns over the exchange which occurred Saturday. They say the administration did not give them the 30 days notice required by law. Others worried that the newly-released Taliban leaders would resume fighting against the U.S.