CBS/Vanity Fair poll: “Americans don’t want war with Iran”

A new poll by 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair shows that Americans are very hesitant to go to war with Iran — with a quarter of respondents saying that “nothing” could make them “support a war with Iran.”

CBS News conducted a phone survey of 906 randomly selected participants in September, asking for the first question, “What would cause you to support a war with Iran?”

Laura Rozen at Politico sums up the answers:

25% of respondents said “only if Iran attacks U.S. soil;” 25% said “If Iran attacks the U.S. fleet in the Persian Gulf;” 11% said “If Iran tests a nuclear bomb;” and 10% said “If Iran attacks Israel.” 24% of respondents said they would never support a war with Iran.

While half of respondents said that they would support a war if Iran directly attacked United States ships or soil, only one in ten said they’d be willing to jump into a war if Iran attacked Israel.

Only 11 percent of respondents said they would support war if Iran tested a nuclear bomb. One might interpret this to mean most Americans would support a containment policy against Iran rather than attack as a “last resort” to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear armed state. Top military officials themselves acknowledge such “military option” is fraught with potentially devastating consequences.

And Matt Duss at Think Progress has an interesting observation about the phrasing of the question and how the hawks are surely paying attention:

It’s an oddly phrased question, but one which nevertheless indicates pretty strongly that Americans are not in favor of a U.S. war with Iran. I suspect that those who are in favor of a war with Iran understand this, which is why they like to talk exclusively about “air strikes,” “military strikes,” or my favorite, “surgical strikes.”

These results track with a Chicago Council poll last month, which we covered here at LobeLog:

Most striking (no pun intended) was that only 18 percent of respondents think the U.S. should launch a military strike on Iranian nuclear targets now. Even if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Iranian advancement toward a bomb, a slim plurality still think the U.S. should not bomb Iran (49 percent oppose it, 47 would support it). More than half of respondents say  if Israel starts a war with Iran, the U.S. should not leap to Israel’s defense.

Vanity Fair‘s website also had a chart breaking down the poll by political affiliation. Here’s a screen grab:

With poll results such as these, it appears the efforts of Iran war hawks to rile up the U.S. populace for another Mid East war may not fly. Or, they may just choose to ignore the statistics and continue to falsely portray American public opinion as being on their side: Cliff May, when he appeared on MSNBC, said that “happily most Americans watching Ahmadinejad on TV understand” the threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Turns out what they might understand  – and what they may want the United States to do – may be two very different things.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. How could Republicans be more inclined to go to war if Iran attacks the US fleet (33%) as opposed to attacking US soil (19%)??

  2. Yes, this makes no sense. Are 25% saying they would support a war with Iran if they U.S. was attacked, but 75% still would not? I really question the validity of that poll. How and what specific questions were asked? So 25% said if the fleet was attacked in the Persian Gulf they would support going to war, but they would not support a war if Iran made a direct attack on the U.S.? Let’s go to war with Iran for attacking us close to their country, but no for hitting us directly? Huh? Yes, this poll is not right. How come the readers can see errors, but the media and bloggers cannot?

  3. The poll make sense; it simply doesn’t allow for multiple answers, even if those who say “if Iran atttacks the US fleet” would also say “If Iran attacks the US soil”. You sum up and 29% didn’t respond or were unsure, but for the remaining 71% “Only if Iran attacks the US soil” probably means sending troop to invade Iran in such a case, it doesn’t mean that if the fleet is attacked the sailors and pilots will sit down and sing “give peace a chance”.

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