Polling on Barack Obama’s deal with Iran has had one consistent quality: the more people see of the Iran deal, the less they like it. The latest Pew Research poll shows a new quality, which is the more people see of the deal, the less they know about it. Oddly, despite the deal being at the top of the news for the last two months, those who claim to have heard nothing at all about it has jumped from 21% in July to 30% in their latest poll. The news of the deal does not seem to be registering well among Americans despite the big political fight it has created on Capitol Hill.
Overall support continues to fall, regardless of the informed status of the respondents. In July, only 33% approved of the deal, but a third of those have backed away in the two months since:
In mid-July, a week after President Obama announced the deal, 33% of the public approved of the agreement, while 45% disapproved and 22% had no opinion. Over the past six weeks, the share approving of the agreement has fallen 12 percentage points (from 33% to 21%), while disapproval has held fairly steady (45% then, 49% now). Somewhat more express no opinion than did so in July (22% then, 30% now).
Support has fallen in all political demographics, even among Democrats. Two months ago, Democrats supported the deal, 50/27, but now only a plurality of Obama’s party supports it, 42/29. Republican opposition has jumped nine points, from 13/69 to 6/78, while independent support has dropped 11 points, 31/47 to 20/47. Most of the movement has gone from support to undecided, but some of it has moved into the No column — almost all of it Republicans, though.
Among other demos, the most dramatic drop in support has been among women — from 29% in July to just 16% now. Support has plunged among all educational demos, including college graduates, who once supported the deal 44/37. Now it’s 35/40 against. Those with some college went from 30/46 to 18/54, and high-school graduates from 27/50 to 14/51. It’s a cascade of collapse in support across the board.
Those who have heard of the deal are more likely to oppose it:
When opinion about the Iran nuclear agreement is based only on those who have heard a lot or a little about the agreement, opposition to the agreement exceeds support by more than a two-to-one margin (57% to 27%).
Among those aware of the Iran deal, the share approving of the agreement has declined 11 percentage points since July, while the percentage disapproving has risen nine points.
Right now, Democrats are strategizing on how to avoid taking a floor vote on the Iran deal, and one can see why. With a 21% approval rating — and lots of potential downside based on Iranian funding of terrorism — almost no one will want a vote to approve this deal on their record. It’s more unpopular than almost any other policy dispute currently on the table.
Oddly, Hillary Clinton has decided to champion the deal despite its unpopularity:
Hillary Clinton will forcefully back the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal during a speech on Wednesday in Washington, according to campaign aides, but will also take a cautious tone by urging lawmakers to take a “distrust and verify” posture with the nation.
Clinton will say that the Iran deal is not a step towards normalizing relations with Iran, aides said, and will devote a large portion of her speech to protecting Israel.
“I support this deal. I support it as part of a larger strategy toward Iran,” Clinton will say at the Brookings Institution, according to excerpts provided to CNN.
“It’s not enough to just say, ‘yes’ to this deal, of course it isn’t,” she will add. “We have to say, ‘Yes, and.’ Yes, and we will enforce it with vigor and vigilance. Yes, and we will embed it in a broader strategy to confront Iran’s bad behavior in the region.”
Hasn’t that been the Obama administration line all along? Two months later, fewer and fewer people are buying it. Only 20% in the Pew poll trust Iran to comply with the pact — no surprise — but a majority of 51% don’t trust the US and IAEA to hold them to it. Just 12% have a “great deal” of confidence in the monitoring of Iranian compliance, and another 30% have “a fair amount” of confidence. Among independents, that latter measure breaks out to 11% and 28%, respectively, for a grand total of 29% confidence.
Hillary’s strategy seems to be to adopt the Obama line in toto. Given where this has gone, that’s either a principled stand, a horrible miscalculation, or both.
Addendum: Given our interest in Pew Research polls, we would be remiss for not offering our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Andrew Kohut, founder of Pew Research Center. Kohut passed away yesterday morning.