US Public Favors Nuclear Agreement

US Public Favors Nuclear AgreementUS Public Favors Nuclear Agreement

Americans by a broad 19-point margin support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached between Iran and major powers last week to settle the long-running standoff over Tehran's nuclear activities, even as two-thirds in an ABC News/Washington Post poll express skepticism the deal will work.

The public by 56-37% backs the agreement, a signature foreign policy goal of the Obama administration.

At the same time, just 35% are very or somewhat confident the deal in fact will resolve Iran's nuclear dispute; far more, 64%, are less confident. Indeed, four in 10 – mostly opponents of the deal – are not at all confident that it will work.

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

The poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, also finds that just 35% approve of the president's handling of the situation with Iran, with 52% disapproving. Even among the 56% who support the deal, 36% disapprove of Obama's handling of the situation.

Obama gets 59% 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% among independents and 10% among Republicans. The pattern by ideology is similar – 63% approval from liberals, dropping to 37% among moderates and 15% among conservatives.

Politicization of the debate may be one factor. Support for the deal ranges from 69% of Democrats and 56% of independents to 41% among Republicans (54% of Republicans are opposed).

Similarly, it is backed by 75% of liberals and 63% of moderates (who together account for about six in 10 Americans) vs. 39% 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 will work. Fifty-six% of Democrats and 55% of liberals express at least some confidence that the pact will work; that declines to 29% of independents and 21% of Republicans, as well as 36% of moderates and 23% of conservatives.

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