Polling prior to the announcement of a deal with Iran showed that the American public felt conflicted on the issue. A substantial majority wanted a deal in the abstract — but a substantial majority also didn’t think a deal would stop Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons. Now that the deal is no longer in the abstract and people have had a brief opportunity to see it for themselves, the conflict has disappeared, at least in a CNN poll today. A solid majority of Americans reject the deal — but probably not enough to sway Congress into supermajorities for a veto override:
A majority of Americans want Congress to reject the recently-negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, even as President Barack Obama’s approval rating continues to stand in net-positive territory for the second month in a row, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
The new CNN/ORC poll finds 49% approve of the way Obama is handling his job, 47% disapprove, about the same as in a June survey, which found the President’s approval rating at 50% for the first time since 2013. But on the President’s biggest accomplishment since then — the nuclear agreement reached between the U.S., its allies and Iran — most say they would like to see Congress reject it. Overall, 52% say Congress should reject the deal, 44% say it should be approved.
Some opposition to the deal may be fueled by skepticism. A CNN/ORC poll in late June, conducted as the deal was being worked out, found that nearly two-thirds of adults thought it was unlikely the negotiations would result in an agreement that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The odd combination of hope and skepticism has given way to opposition in the face of facts. The problem extends almost all the way through the demographics, with Democrats (61/36), millennials (53/41), and self-described liberals (64/33) almost the only bright spots. Non-white voters support it, but only barely at 51/47. Women oppose the deal (42/53) more than men (46/50). It’s a virtual tie among college attendees at 49/45 (+/-4%), but those with no college experience oppose by a huge margin, 37/61.
The key demos here will be the double-digit opposition among women and independents (40/55). Most if not all Republicans in the presidential race oppose the deal. If Hillary Clinton continues to support it, she may see even more erosion among both demos. Furthermore, the regional splits could come back to haunt her. The only part of the country that backs the deal is the Northeast, 52/44, where Hillary would play strong anyway. The Midwest opposes it by 20 points, 38/58, and the west 43/49, although that’s within the MOE for that demo. Urban respondents split 48/48, suburbanites oppose it 44/53, and rural voters 35/59. Support for this deal could be very politically limiting for Hillary — although it’s worth noting that the same poll shows foreign policy to be one of the lowest priorities in the upcoming election cycle, at least for now.
That brings us to another mitigating factor. This won’t be up for a referendum, nor will there be an election to pressure politicians into specific action before this gets settled on Capitol Hill. Congress will have to summon supermajorities to reject the Iran deal and override Barack Obama’s certain veto on such an action. While this poll points to overall dissatisfaction with the deal, it doesn’t show the kind of overwhelming revulsion that could drive that kind of mandate on Capitol Hill, especially in an off year. Unless we start seeing polls with significantly higher opposition, this won’t move the needle enough to get enough Democrats to cross Obama.
Addendum: Speaking of 2016, the economy numbers in this poll don’t look very good for Democrats, either, and that will matter in the upcoming election cycle. The overall state of the economy only gets a 41/59 overall, 37/62 among independents, and 39/61 among women. Almost every demo except Democrats and liberals has a majority rating the current economy as poor or very poor, and almost no one is undecided on that point.