Majority Favors Iran Nuclear Deal Despite Doubts That It'll Work (POLL)

PHOTO: Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, July 14, 2015, in Vienna.Thomas Imo/Photothek/Getty Images
Foreign Minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, July 14, 2015, in Vienna.

Americans by a broad 19-point margin support the nuclear deal with Iran announced last week, even as two-thirds in an ABC News/Washington Post poll express skepticism it’ll work -- and relatively few give Barack Obama credit for bringing it to pass.

The public by 56-37 percent backs the agreement, a signature foreign policy goal of the Obama administration. It lifts economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran agreeing not to produce nuclear weapons and allowing international inspectors to monitor its nuclear facilities.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

At the same time, just 35 percent are very or somewhat confident the deal in fact will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; far more, 64 percent, are less confident. Indeed, four in 10 – mostly opponents of the deal – are not at all confident that it’ll work.

Confidence interacts with support. Among people who are at least somewhat confident the deal will work, 86 percent support it. Among those with less confidence, many fewer – but still 40 percent – are willing to give it a try.

The poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, also finds that just 35 percent approve of the president’s handling of the situation with Iran, with 52 percent disapproving. That puts the president in can’t-get-a-break land, with support for the agreement 21 percentage points higher than approval for his work on it. Even among the 56 percent who support the deal, 36 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the situation.

Obama gets 59 percent approval from Democrats for handling the situation – but that’s weaker than a president might expect in his own party, and it tanks to 33 percent among independents and 10 percent among Republicans. The pattern by ideology is similar – 63 percent approval from liberals, dropping to 37 percent among moderates and 15 percent among conservatives.

Support for the agreement aligns with recent pre-pact polling – 59 percent in an ABC/Post poll in March. But it was higher, 64 percent, in November 2013, and support for talks with Iran to try to reach a deal was higher still, more than 80 percent, in 2009 and 2012 alike.

Politicization of the debate may be one factor. Support for the deal ranges from 69 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents to 41 percent among Republicans (54 percent of Republicans are opposed). Similarly, it’s backed by 75 percent of liberals and 63 percent of moderates (who together account for about six in 10 Americans) vs. 39 percent of conservatives.

Independents and moderates side more with Democrats and liberals in supporting the agreement, but more with Republicans and conservatives in their skepticism that it’ll work. Fifty-six percent of Democrats and 55 percent of liberals express at least some confidence that the pact will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; that declines to 29 percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans, as well as 36 percent of moderates and 23 percent of conservatives. “Very” conservatives are especially dubious; just 15 percent think it’ll work.

Majority backing for the agreement fits with a more general pattern, in which the public tends to prefer diplomatic approaches over military action.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone July 16-19, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points for the full sample, including design effect. Partisan divisions are 30-21-39 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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