Media outlets are playing up the significance of a new poll that found a majority of Americans opposed to a deal recently signed by the U.S. and major world powers with Iran, believing it will make the world “less safe.” But that poll gave respondents no information about the deal, while other more comprehensive polls have found that when respondents are actually informed about the terms of the deal, a majority support it.
Media Hype Quinnipiac Poll Finding Majority Of Americans Oppose Iran Deal, Believe It Will Make The World “Less Safe”
Wash. Post: “The Iran Deal Is Unpopular.” In a September 1 article, The Washington Post reported on a Quinnipiac survey of 1,563 registered voters taken August 20-25 that suggests that the agreement reached by the U.S. and world powers with Iran to limit that country's nuclear program is unpopular with voters. According to the Post:
House and Senate Democrats appear to get little politically, at least in the near term, out of going on the record for or against the Iran deal -- except yet another chance to take one for the team. A Monday Quinnipiac University poll revealed that just 25 percent of Americans support the deal, while 55 percent oppose it, yet Obama is close to his magic number of 34 in the Senate to save the deal from Republicans in Congress. [The Washington Post, 9/1/15]
Fox News' MacCallum: 56 Percent Believe The Deal Would Make The World Less Safe. On the September 1 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum cited the Quinnipiac poll finding that 56 percent of respondents believe the nuclear deal with Iran would make the world less safe:
GEN. JACK KEANE: Yeah, I totally agree with the Cheneys here, Martha. The most stunning revelation in this nuclear deal is the thing that they just put their finger on. The entire nuclear infrastructure stays in place, except for some significant reductions of centrifuges and enriched uranium. But in 10 years, they can activate those centrifuges and begin to enrich uranium again with some restrictions. In 15 years, those restrictions are entirely removed and Iran has a clear pathway to a nuclear weapon, and as the Cheneys suggest, they wouldn't stop with one weapon, it would actually be a nuclear arsenal. I mean, that is absolutely extraordinary that that's part of this framework agreement. And the president's thesis is he's blocking Iran from having a weapon when actually he's providing a pathway to that weapon.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: Well, he has said he believes that it's exactly the opposite. But a poll of the American people shows that they are in agreement more with the Cheneys, I guess, and with you on this one. Do you think the nuclear deal with Iran is going to make the world safer? And 56 percent say that they believe that it will make the world less safe. And you also referenced something written by Henry Kissinger that is quite surprising. Tell everybody about that, general.
KEANE: Well, when you posit the fact that Iran will eventually have a weapon, what choice do Iran's enemies in the region have when that begins to take place? Clearly they have to protect themselves. Iran is seeking regional domination and it's had a measure of success in doing it so far. So they will -- they will arm themselves. They will at least begin with a nuclear threshold and eventually a nuclear weapon. What Henry Kissinger has said, Iran having a nuclear weapon is the most dangerous threat to civilization he has seen in his lifetime, to include Nazism and communism, because it will lead to what we're just talking about -- nuclear proliferation in the region -- very volatile, dynamic region, which would likely lead, in Dr. Kissinger's mind, to the first ever nuclear exchange. And that is catastrophic. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/1/15]
Quinnipiac Poll Asked Respondents Simplistic Questions About The Deal, Did Not Provide Details Of Its Terms Or History
Quinnipiac Polls Respondents On Simple Questions. From the results of Quinnipiac's poll:
[Quinnipiac University, 8/31/15]
A More Detailed Poll Found That A Majority Of Americans Support The Iran Deal When They Know More About Its Terms
Poll That Actually Explained The Deal Finds Majority Support. A poll conducted by the University of Maryland's Center for International and Security Studies found that when respondents were provided with background information about the terms of the deal, a majority favored congressional approval:
Citizen Cabinet surveys are not meant to simply be another poll. Rather the goal is to find out what a representative panel of registered voters recommends when they are given a briefing and hear arguments for and against the key options. The process they go through is called a 'policymaking simulation,' in that the goal is to put the respondent into the shoes of a policymaker. The content of the simulation is vetted with Congressional staffers and other experts to assure accuracy and balance.
In the current Citizen Cabinet survey the simulation focused much more deeply on the terms of the deal, especially the terms that have been highly criticized by Members of Congress. Panelists were first briefed on the origins of the international dispute over Iran's nuclear program and the main issues during the negotiations and given a detailed summary of the agreement's main features. Then panelists evaluated a series of critiques--some general, some quite specific--prominent in the Congressional debate, and assessed a rebuttal offered for each.
After considering the various arguments and options, panelists reassessed the options separately. Approving of the deal was found slightly more acceptable or tolerable, and not approving of the deal slightly less so. Panelists were finally asked whether they would recommend that their Members of Congress approve of the deal. Those that did not recommend approval were offered other options. Ultimately 55% recommended approval, including 72% of Democrats, 61% of Independents and 33% of Republicans. Twenty three percent recommended ramping up sanctions, 14% seeking to renegotiate the deal, and 7% using military threats.
[University of Maryland, September 2015]
Approval Findings Mirror Results Of CNN Poll That Also Gave Respondents More Details
CNN: Respondents Support Iran Deal When Provided With More Information About Terms. CNN asked half of the respondents to its poll a question that explained the agreement's “major restrictions on [Iran's] nuclear program” and provisions for “greater international inspection of its nuclear facilities.” The other half of respondents were asked a question that provided no details about the deal but simply asked whether Congress should approve or reject it. CNN's poll found that 50 percent of respondents supported the deal when its details were provided.
From the poll:
[CNN/ORC International poll, August 13-16, 2015]