Majority Of Americans Oppose Iran Nuclear Deal, But It Will Likely Go Into Effect Anyway
Another poll shows that a majority of Americans oppose the Iranian nuclear deal, but the effort to defeat it in Congress is still likely to fail.
A new poll indicates that a majority of Americans have turned against the nuclear deal with Iran:
A growing majority of Americans are turning against the nuclear deal with Iran and believe Congress should reject the deal brokered between the U.S., five other world powers and Iran.
As Congress inches closer to a vote to approve or disapprove of the deal, 56% of Americans now say they think Congress should reject the deal with Iran — up from 52% less than a month ago — according to the latest CNN/ORC poll released Thursday.
And 6-in-10 Americans also disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Iran, according to the poll.
The American public’s growing disapproval of the Iran deal stems from an increasing partisan polarization over the deal with more Republicans opposing and more Democrats embracing the nuclear deal. And it comes amid a full-court press from Obama and his administration to sell the deal to the public and to members of Congress ahead of a key vote on the deal next month — with Republicans knocking his efforts at every turn.
Republican opposition has jumped to 83% from 66% last month while 70% of Democrats now say Congress should approve the deal, up from 61% in July.
The number of independents opposing the deal, meanwhile, remains steady as a majority — now 58% — continues to believe Congress should reject the deal.
Republican politicians have been nearly unanimous in their opposition to the deal with most of the party’s presidential field expressing outrage and opposition to the deal almost as soon as it was announced.
And with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton expressing her support for the deal, it is likely to become a defining issue in the 2016 election.
A slice of the opposition to the deal may be drawn from the partisan politics behind it as half of the American surveyed said they supported a deal that would ease some economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for major restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and greater international inspections of its nuclear sites — essentially the terms agreed to by Iran and six world powers.
With nearly all Republicans committed to opposing the deal when it comes up for a vote next month, Obama will likely have to pull out his veto pen to keep the deal alive.
This latest poll is the newest in a series of setbacks for the Administration as we head toward a September in the House and Senate on the deal, which will likely be followed by a Presidential veto and an attempt in both Houses to override that veto. Initially, polling in the immediate aftermath of the deal’s announcement was showing that the American public was basically supportive of the deal, although not entire sure that Iran would actually live up to its obligations. As time went on, though, the forces arrayed against the deal seem to have done a better job of selling their argument to the public than the Administration and its allies have. By the beginning of this month, it was apparent that the tide of public opinion had turned, and this poll seems to have confirmed it. With the vote itself now less than a month away, it seems likely that Congress will head into this debate with a majority of Americans opposed to the deal, and some of them quite vocally opposed.
On Capitol Hill, the Administration hasn’t fared much better, but it still seems unlikely that the deal will go down to defeat in the end. As far at least, the decision by New York Senator Chuck Schumer to oppose the deal has not led to a large tidal wave of Democrats joining him in opposition. We did learn this week that former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez will be voting against the deal, but most observers had already counted him as someone likely to vote against it to begin with given his previous position on the negotiations and the fact that he was a co-sponsor of a bill that would have greatly increased the sanctions against Iran prior to the deal being announced. Additionally, the Administration seemingly lost any hope of Republican support for the deal, at least in the Senate, when both Jeff Flake from Arizona and Bob Corker from Tennessee came out against the deal this week. Proponents of the deal suffered a further public relations setback yesterday when it was revealed that at least one of the agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency allows the Iranians to “inspect” suspect sites and report back to the IAEA, an agreement that is both unusual and unprecedented. It should be noted that the IAEA disputes this report, but to date has not made public the terms of its side agreements with Tehran regarding inspection, something which is likely to become an issue when Congress returns to debate the deal.
Despite all of this, though, it still seems unlikely that the deal will end up being rejected. For one thing, as Politico notes, the opposition from Senators Schumer and Menendez does not seem as though it will be leading a significant number of Democrats to join them in voting against the deal. In fact, shortly after he announced his own decision to vote against the deal Senator Schumer made clear to colleagues that he will not be making any effort to cajole fellow Democrats to vote with him. This is likely to lessen the degree to which his opposition hurts the Administration. While we won’t know for sure until the votes are cast, The Washington Post has been tracking the status of Senators’ positions on the deal. So far, they are counting 57 against the deal, 31 in favor, and 12 still undecided, all of whom are Democrats. The Hill’s whip count shows also shows 31 Democrats as yes or leaning yes. Assuming that these calculations are right, Republicans would need to get 10 of the 12 undecided Democrats to vote against the deal and in favor of overriding the President’s veto. Not only does that seem unlikely, but at this point the Republicans potentially might not even have enough votes to defeat a filibuster of the original bill. By contrast, the Administration needs to convince only three more Democrats to support the deal and oppose a veto override. The comparable whip count for the House is rather incomplete at the moment since most members have not made their position public, but given the fact that over there Republicans would be required to get 44 Democrats to vote against the President the chances for a veto override seem to be close to impossible.
So, at least at the moment, it would appear that the Iran deal will ultimately survive its Congressional test, but it will do so under very unusual circumstances. Essentially, we will have had a majority of both the House and the Senate vote the reject the deal and a majority of Americans opposing the deal unless the Administration does a better public relations job than it has been to date, but will see it implemented in a political environment where its future may very well be in doubt, especially if the next President is a Republican.