Detailed Poll Shows U.S. Electorate Favors Iran Deal

by Jim Lobe

I had hoped to write about this new poll  of U.S. voters by Hart Research Associates today for IPS today, especially in the context of continuing Senatorial efforts to enact new sanctions against Iran, but the publication of the quadrennial Council on Foreign Relations-Pew Research Center survey, “America’s Place in the World,” superseded it. Barring any unexpected developments, I hope to get to it tomorrow precisely in order to put in the desired context. But, in the meantime, I wanted to make readers of this blog aware of it.

As you can see from the slides in the Power Point presentation that is linked to above, the key conclusions noted by Geoffrey Garin, Hart’s president with decades of experience in both measuring foreign-policy attitudes and Congressional politics (primarily on behalf of Democrats), include:

1) Voters who have heard at least a little about the Geneva accord favored it by a 57-37% majority, a result that closely tracks the CNN and Washington Post polls taken last month. When informed of the basic terms of the agreement, respondents supported it by a larger 63% majority.  Moreover, that support crossed partisan and ideological lines: pluralities of Republicans (45%), self-described Conservatives (47%), and self-described “strongly pro-Israel” respondents (48%) favored it.

2) Voters wanted Congress to monitor adherence to the accord but not to undermine or block it, or otherwise jeopardize negotiations for a permanent settlement — a message that would hopefully resonate with Sens. Menendez and Schumer, the Democrats in the Senate who appear most eager to approve new sanctions, even if they would only take effect after the six-month term of the interim accord reached in Geneva. More than two thirds of respondents took that position, as opposed to only 21 percent who opted instead for the proposition that “Congress should act now to pass additional economic sanctions on Iran, even if doing so would break the agreement with Iran or might jeopardize the negotiations for a permanent settlement.”

3) Lawmakers who support military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and/or oppose negotiations with Iran would not win much support among their constituents. Slightly more than a quarter of respondents said they would consider support for military action or opposing negotiations by their Congressional representative in a favorable light, while about twice as many said such positions by their representative be received unfavorably.

4) Roughly the same percentages applied when respondents were asked how they would react if their representatives wanted to pass more economic sanctions on Iran now. Thirty-one percent said they would look on such a position favorably, while 46% said their reaction would be unfavorable, and more than half of those said they would look upon such a position “very” unfavorably. In this, there were strong partisan differences: by a 48-26% margin, Republican respondents said they would react favorably to their representatives if they wanted more economic sanctions. But, by margins of 64-16% and 49-28%, respectively, Democrats and Independents said their reaction would be unfavorable.

5) When given pro and con arguments a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a convincing majority (70%) of respondents said they would oppose that course — 50% of respondents said they would “strongly oppose” it — while less than a quarter (22%) said they favored it (9% strongly).

The survey was conducted between Nov. 26 and Dec. 1, excluding Thanksgiving Day and the day after. It interviewed 800 people considered certain or likely to vote in the next election. The party breakdown was 41% Democrat and 35% Republican which tracks closely with what is known about the 2012 electorate.

Nearly a third of all respondents (32%) identified themselves as a “very strong supporter of Israel,” but the survey found major partisan differences among those respondents. Twenty-two% of Democrats said they were “very strong supporter(s)” of Israel in contrast to about half of Republican respondents who identified themselves in that way.

In a teleconference, Garin said that underlying many of the answers was a strong desire to avoid military action. To the extent that intensity of opinion was expressed in the answers, he said, it revolved a lot around the possibility of military action.

Photo Credit: FARS News/Majid Asgaripour

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Given the very negative and often distorted propaganda against Iran by the neocons and most of the mainline media, it is heartening to see that still the majority of Americans favor engagement and negotiation to conflict and unilateral sanctions. However, it also shows how much work still needs to be done to inform the public about the reality of what is going on and about the fact that Iran is not the country that possesses nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

  2. Let’s hope the Congress gets the picture presented here too. And as usual, Mr. Farhang has his pulse on the subject, which brings to this old mans mind, he should be considered for a position in the Diplomatic Corps of his Home Country.

  3. The speed and almost reckless haste of negotiations is more an indication of the precarious nature of the President of the United States and his party in terms of their negative slide in opinion polls with the failure and criticism over its policies such as the Affordable Care Act. Presidents in trouble have often sought a quick home run politically with a perceived foreign policy victory. We don’t have to look much further than the previous President’s use of the “surge” in Afghanistan in an attempt to divert the public’s attention from the collapse of the financial markets at home.

  4. It is good news, indeed, that a majority of the US public is awakening to the dangers of continuing meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries, especially those in the Middle East and Central Asia. No good comes out of this meddling, since no individual or nation likes meddling by others.

    This just proves that this nation’s Founding Father and first President, George Washington, was totally right in advising the nation to be friends and trade with all nations, but to have entangling alliances with none.

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