Maybe Barack Obama really does represent the American people best … or perhaps he’s left the electorate as confused as his administration. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, 59% of respondents support a deal with Iran that will curtail its nuclear-weapons program in exchange for loosening sanctions, and 59% also think it probably won’t work.
Call this the Neville Chamberlain endorsement:
Note the lovely symmetry in this incoherence. Thirty-four percent strongly support a deal; 34% have no confidence in one. Actually, the better comparison is the asymmetry in support for a deal. While 34% strongly support a deal, only four percent have high confidence it will work. On confidence, Democrats and Republicans split out pretty much as expected, but independents have a puzzling dichotomy, too. Sixty percent support making a deal, but only 4% of them are very confident it would work, and only another 33% are “somewhat” confident. Sixty-two percent of independents have little confidence, including 35% who have no confidence.
This does make one thing very clear: the question on the deal is very poorly framed. The question (which can be read in the above graphic) assumes the deal will work. A deal that works even gets 47% of Republicans to buy in, which isn’t terribly surprising, since Republicans don’t want a nuclear Iran. It’s Q2 that’s the real issue: will a deal with Tehran actually prevent a nuclear Iran? Six in ten say no, including 44% of Democrats and 62% of independents.
So why make the deal at all? We’ll get back to that in a moment.
In another surprising result from this poll, support for a Palestinian state has dropped to its lowest level in seventeen years:
The idea is still slightly above water, with 39 percent in support and 36 percent in opposition. But that’s a far cry from past Gallup polling in which a majority of Americans supported the idea (as many as 58 percent in 2003).
The 39 percent who support the idea is the lowest that number has been in WaPo-ABC and Gallup polling since 1998, and the three-point gap between support and opposition is the smallest in at least two decades — though not statistically significant relative to other recent polls from Gallup.
This question produces a much lower partisan flavor. Among Republicans, support for a Palestinian state is 31/50, but it’s only 41/33 among Democrats and independents — hardly a ringing endorsement. The Obama administration excoriated Benjamin Netanyahu for his apparent rejection of a two-state solution, which Netanyahu conditioned on the continuation of the current state of affairs in the Palestinian Authority, but Americans feel pretty much the same way.
Speaking of which, Obama is taking a beating on his handling of Israel. Overall, he gets a 38/50 on the question, and 34/52 among independents. Democrats give Obama a 66/21, but that’s pretty low for Obama’s own party. The only race/religion demo that approves of Obama’s performance is the “no religion” group, 54/34; otherwise, the lowest disapproval in this breakout is 57%. In contrast, Netanyahu gets a 37/44 overall from Americans, with a 37/46 from independents and an unsurprising endorsement from Republicans, 59/21.
In the meantime, the talks with Iran have been extended another three months:
Wrapping up six days of marathon nuclear talks with mixed results, Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue talks in a new phase aimed at reaching a final agreement to control Iran’s nuclear ambitions by the end of June, officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Officials had set a deadline of March 31 for a framework agreement, and later softened that wording to a framework understanding, between Iran and the so-called P5+1 nations – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. …
Kerry and others said the sides have made some progress, with Iran considering demands for further cuts to its uranium enrichment program but pushing back on how long it must limit technology it could use to make atomic arms. In addition to sticking points on research and development, differences remain on the timing and scope of sanctions removal, the officials said.
The Obama administration says any deal will stretch the time Iran needs to make a nuclear weapon from the present two to three months to at least a year. But critics object that it would keep Tehran’s nuclear technology intact.
Why make this deal at all? Michael Ramirez makes the point clearly in his editorial cartoon for Investors Business Daily:
All that’s missing is the umbrella — for all of us, or at least the 59% who want a deal even if it won’t work, if one buys the results from Q1 as well as Q2 in the poll.
Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history. Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here. And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.
Update: Edited for formatting, plus clarified the paragraph after the cartoon.