Media Outlets Cite Conservative Group's Flawed Poll On Iran Deal Without Disclosing Misleading Question

Media are citing a flawed poll claiming majority opposition to the Iran nuclear deal conducted by Secure America Now (SAN) and Pat Caddell's Caddell Associates, without acknowledging that it contains a misleading question that falsely equates the Iran deal to the failed nuclear agreement with the North Korea agreement. Experts have explained that the Iran deal and North Korea agreement are vastly different, and SAN and Caddell have a history of advocacy polling and shady conservative advocacy campaigns.

Secure America Now Releases Poll With Misleading Question Comparing Iran Nuclear Deal To North Korea Deal

Secure America Now Poll Misleadingly Likens Iran Nuclear Deal To 1994 Agreed Framework With North Korea. A poll by Secure America Now in coordination with Caddell Associates and McLaughlin & Associates suggests that 54 percent of voters agree with opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, based on a misleading question that falsely likens the deal to “the one North Korea violated to build nuclear weapons”:

All things being equal with which position do you agree with more?

President Obama who says that the proposed deal with Iran on nuclear weapons is a good deal. It has unprecedented verification and unprecedented access to Iran's nuclear sites. It limits Iran's nuclear program and extends their breakout time to develop a nuclear weapon to one year.

The opponents of the deal who say that it's a bad deal because it gives Iran a $150 billion windfall in immediate sanctions relief, ends their arms embargo and it leaves Iran's nuclear infrastructure intact. The agreement is similar to the one North Korea violated to build nuclear weapons. Iran can continue to support wars of aggression against their neighbors and terrorism against Israel and the United States. [Secure America Now, July 2015]

Media Outlets Cite Poll To Hype Opposition To The Iran Deal

Washington Examiner Claims “Poll Shows Opposition To Iran Deal,” But Fails To Explain The North Korea Comparison Is Flawed. The Washington Examiner reported July 29 “a new nationwide survey reveals opposition to” the Iran nuclear deal. The Examiner pointed to the survey's North Korea question to note that, “In answer to this question, 54 percent said they agreed with opponents of the deal, while 31 percent sided with Obama,” but didn't acknowledge that the comparison is false. [The Washington Examiner, 7/29/15]

Weekly Standard Reports “Facts Sway Voters On Iran Deal,” But Fails To Note Poll's Misleading North Korea Comparison. The Weekly Standard wrote that according to the poll, “the more Americans learn” about the deal “the less they like it,” but didn't acknowledge that the poll contained a misleading question falsely equating the Iran deal to North Korea. [Weekly Standard, 7/30/15]

The Hill Reports “Poll Finds Growing Opposition To Iran Deal,” Without Acknowledging The Poll's False North Korea Comparison. The Hill wrote that “public support for the Iran nuclear deal is declining, according to a new poll,” but failed to note that the poll contained a misleading question falsely equating the Iran deal to a 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea comparison. [The Hill, 7/29/15]

But The Poll's Question Is Misleading And Its Comparison Is Flawed: The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Much More Detailed than The North Korean Agreement, And The Countries' Circumstances Are Different

State Department's Marie Harf: Unlike Iran, “North Korea Had Produced Weapons-Grade Plutonium Prior” To Agreement. In a press briefing on April 23, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf addressed the comparison between the Iran deal and the North Korean Agreed Framework:

MS HARF: There's no - the comparison is just - they're completely different things, and I'm happy to talk through why a little bit. The comprehensive deal we are seeking to negotiate with Iran is fundamentally different than what we did in terms of our approach to North Korea. In the early 1990s, North Korea had produced weapons-grade plutonium prior to agreeing to limited IAEA inspections. After the Agreed Framework, they agreed to more intrusive inspections; but in 2002, when they finally broke its commitments, its violations were detected by the IAEA. We've also said very publicly that one of the reasons we have the Additional Protocol now, which is a key part of what we're negotiating with Iran, is in fact because of the lessons we learned from the North Korea situation. [U.S. Department of State, 4/23/15]

National Interest: Unlike The 4-Page North Korea Deal, Iran Deal Has “Unprecedented Degree Of Monitoring And Inspections.” Paul Pillar, nonresident senior fellow for both the Center for Security Studies and the Brookings Institution, wrote in his blog for The National Interest, “The Agreed Framework was a sketchy four-page document that provided for little in the way of monitoring and enforcement. In contrast, the leading feature of the agreement being negotiated with Iran is its unprecedented degree of monitoring and inspections. The final agreement will have an enforcement and dispute resolution mechanism consistent with the Additional Protocol pertaining to work of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” [The National Interest, 5/19/15]

Economist: Unlike North Korea Agreement, Iran Deal Contains “The Most Intrusive Nuclear-Inspection Arrangements Ever Designed.” The Economist explained that “the nuclear agreement with Iran is very different from the one with North Korea,” noting that unlike the North Korean agreement, the Iran deal contains “the most intrusive nuclear-inspection arrangements ever designed”:

The contrast with what has been agreed with Iran is striking. In a meticulously detailed document which, with appendices, extends to well over 100 pages, the most intrusive nuclear-inspection arrangements ever designed are described. Not only will inspectors have a right to visit any site they deem suspicious, but every stage of the fuel cycle will be monitored, as will Iran's nuclear supply chain. This deal implicitly assumes that Iran will attempt to cheat unless it knows it will get caught. The North Korean agreement showed no concern about uranium-enrichment activities, which, in due course, the regime in Pyongyang exploited. With Iran, Mr.Obama was right to say that its every pathway towards a bomb has been blocked. [The Economist, 7/25/15]

CEIP: Unlike North Korean Agreement, “The P5+1 Are Unified In Wanting To Prevent Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons.” According to an April 28 article by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) titled “Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Not the North Korea Deal,” all members of the P5+1, including Russia and China, are involved and invested in the deal, unlike the bilateral North Korean deal between only the U.S. and North Korea:

The negotiations that produced the 1994 Agreed Framework were conducted by the United States and the DPRK alone. The other permanent members of the UN Security Council were not invested in it and in its enforcement.

The P5+1 perceive major national and collective interests in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and in upholding the NPT. Each of these states has invested national prestige in demonstrating that their collective effort can abate a threat to international peace and security. They have made this clear in a number of ways, including by authorizing and enforcing an unprecedented array of economic sanctions on Iran. The intensity of these states' support for sanctions has varied, and the P5+1--particularly Russia--may have different priorities in dealing with Iran if and when the nuclear case is resolved. But there is reason to believe that they all are prepared to hold Iran to account for fulfilling the terms of an agreement. [Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 4/28/15]

CEIP: Iran Deal “Explicitly Addresses All Pathways To The Bomb.” The April 28 CEIP article further explained that in contrast to the deal with North Korea, every path to nuclear weapons is addressed in the Iran deal:

The Agreed Framework focused specifically on the DPRK's plutonium program. The framework also reaffirmed the DPRK's broader commitment not to seek nuclear weapons by any means, pursuant to the 1992 Joint Declaration of South and North Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As it turned out, the DPRK secretly imported uranium enrichment technology from Pakistan and developed a parallel route for acquiring weapons-usable fissile material.

The proposed agreement with Iran explicitly covers both the uranium and plutonium pathways to acquiring nuclear weapons, and includes extensive measures to verify that declared and undeclared pathways would be blocked. [Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 4/28/15]

Pollster Patrick Caddell And Secure America Now Have A History Of Shady Conservative Advocacy

SAN Used Its Board Members' Fox News Positions To Urge Benghazi Investigation. Secure America Now (SAN), whose advisory board at the time included Pat Caddell and several other Fox News personalities, used the network and its history of Benghazi misinformation to advocate for Congress to appoint the Benghazi Select Committee in 2013. [Media Matters, 9/11/13]

SAN Used Footage Of Journalist Murdered By ISIS In “Deplorable” Campaign Ad. In 2014 SAN -- backed by Caddell and several other Fox figures -- published an anti-Democrat campaign ad featuring footage of an American journalist murdered by ISIS. The group pulled the ad after the journalist's parents told England Cable news that the ads were “very sad” and “deplorable.” [Media Matters, 10/17/14]

SAN Board Member Pat Caddell Has A History Of “Advocacy Polling” Based On Leading Questions. In 2011, Washington Post polling manager Peyton Craighill described one of Caddell's polls as “a clear example of advocacy polling”:

Update from Greg Sargent: I asked Washington Post polling manager Peyton Craighill to assess the value of this poll. His answer was unequivocal:

“This is a clear example of advocacy polling. They've generated leading questions to elicit a desired result to prove a point. In no way does this represent neutral, independent research.”

The only thing this poll reveals is the lengths some folks will go to in order to keep alive the storyline that Obama is forever on the verge of losing Jewish support -- a claim they evidently hope will become a self-fulfilling prophesy if they repeat it often enough. [The Washington Post, 7/13/11]