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.

Iran Nuclear Deal Congress

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.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Congress, Environment, Middle East, National Security, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    APIC’s propaganda blitz is apparently working.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    It is rumored that Mendez is getting money for his legal defense fund from Sheldon Adelson.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @Ron Beasley: Lot more lobbying money lined up against than for. And I expect that was factored into Obama’s calculations. This whole story sounds to me like this is progressing as expected. Obama will get what he wants despite implacable and unreasoning opposition from GOPs. Again. And he’s willing to take the public opinion hit to do it.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Polling Americans on foreign policy is a waste of time. No one pays attention, no one has context, no one knows thing one about history and most Americans can’t find Iran on a wall map of the middle east.

    I swear to God if the weather here (I’m in London) didn’t suck I’d move here. I despair of Americans.

  5. michael reynolds says:


    I agree. The unfairest thing said about Obama is that he’s driven by polling and popularity. Nonsense. He’s waiting for history’s vindication.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: You have my sympathy. I lived in London for 1.5 years and finally fled the country because of the damn winters. Gloom, rain, no sun, and did I mention it rains?

    No wonder everyone hangs out at the pub. England is the exact opposite of anywhere you would lounge outside in a teeny-weeny polka-dot bikini with one of those drinks with paper umbrellas in it.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    @grumpy realist: I live in Portland, Oregon and it’s no worse than I experience every winter. I also live in Munich for 3 years and the weather is worse. Cloudy wet summers and desperately cold winters.

  8. Modulo Myself says:

    When Iran does not build nuclear weapons and then fire them at America public opinion will change and change quickly.

    People oppose this because they know nothing except what propaganda has taught them. They honestly believe that Iran is just itching to build one bomb, use it, and then be annihilated.

    After this does not happen, roughly 40% will cling to conservative propaganda about Iran. We’re going to have millions of Eli Lake articles about this or that; anonymous former intelligence officials explaining that we’re days away from Iran having a nuke. Etc, etc. Some trolls will be talking about sites where they are definitely positively weapons, and of course: Obama is COVERING THEM UP BENGHAZI.

    But they won’t be able to sell it to the people who don’t want war. The pundits will still scold Obama, etc. etc., because he didn’t heed the advice of people who think the language of Iran is Arab Muslim Terrorist.

  9. Steve V says:

    A majority of Americans oppose death panels, too.

  10. Scott F. says:

    @michael reynolds:

    He’s waiting for history’s vindication.

    This is true not only regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal, BTW.

    I’m convinced historians will look back at Obama’s two terms and be absolutely amaze at what he managed to get done in the face of nihilistic opposition. And they’ll wonder at how so few in this country recognized this achievement as it was happening.

  11. Stonetools says:

    Obama’s problem is that he is basing his campaign for the policy on pure logic and what’s best for the USA. His opponents are using every propaganda tool imaginable to oppose the deal, with virtually unlimited money, which they use not only to buy lying ads but to buy Congressional representatives. It’s not a fair fight. Fortunately he has veto power in Congress.
    It’s not surprising the public is against the deal. I may have seen one pro deal ad. I’ve seen at least a dozen anti deal ads. Honestly, The Obama Administration sucks at messaging. This entire campaign is example #1,879 of this. Obama simply does not or won’t BS the public, which is kind of a flaw for a politician. If you are a liberal who believes in good government, logic and being honest with the public, that’s not a flaw, it’s a feature. But the drawback is that he doesn’t do well with convincing a public that can’t stand too much logic and realism.

  12. Pete S says:

    @Stonetools: Obama has been pretty good on this. Of course when he called out the lies and stupidity of the deal opponents he wound up getting called out for hurting the idiots’ feelings and not being polite enough.

  13. Hal_10000 says:

    So Americans oppose the Iraq deal. But Congress will pass it anyway. All I can say about that is …


    We are not a democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic. The beauty of our system is not that the people get what they want, since what they want is sometimes awful or unclear (and let’s face it; the Bill of Rights would never survive a popular vote). The beauty is that our politicians are ultimately accountable to the people.

    The Iran deal should stand or fail on its own merits. How popular it is in a poll is trivia.

    I think the real fear among the neocons is that deal will work and they won’t have an excuse to bomb another country. If we get to January 2017 and the deal is working, there is no way any non-crazy person would tear it up.

  14. Slugger says:

    Maybe this does not mean all that much. If 56% are against it, then around 40% are for it. Forty percent approval sounds bad at first, but let’s compare it to other things. This approval rate is close to the rate for the Supreme Court, somewhat better than the rate for Obama, and a hell of a lot better than Congress. Trump is in the low twenties, and JEB would renounce his brother for anything close to forty percent approval. Polling always has a context; the deal with Iran is rating pretty good when looked at in the light of the cynicism and negativism that the public exudes. Poll people about the New York Times, public school teachers, or climate scientists. (Please note that I am not expressing my opinions here.)

  15. T says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    APIC’s propaganda blitz is apparently working.

    it’s not just the Israelis

    Though the American Security Initiative does not reveal donor information, the president of the new group, former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., is a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia. Coleman’s firm, Hogan Lovells, is on retainer to the Saudi Arabian monarchy for $60,000 a month. In July 2014, Coleman described his work as “providing legal services to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia” on issues including “legal and policy developments involving Iran and limiting Iranian nuclear capability.”

    le sigh

  16. gVOR08 says:


    If we get to January 2017 and the deal is working, there is no way any non-crazy person would tear it up.

    But there’s always the risk we’d have Republicans.

  17. stonetools says:

    @Pete S:

    Obama has been pretty good on this

    Yeah, with the logical, reality-based portion of the electorate. Also with those knowledge about international relations. But that’s a minority. The rest want some cowboy character riding in on unicorn to cow the rest of the world and to get Iran to capitulate.

  18. Grumpy Realist says:

    @stonetools: yes, none of them are thinking: if we tear this up, what happens? everyone and his relative decides to raise sanctions and resume trade with Iran.

    Contrary to what a lot of people think, the U.S. can’t run the rest of the world. Which is why Trump and his cronies actually trying to run the U.S. would be such a disaster.

  19. Ben Wolf says:

    The poll isn’t worth much consideration. It doesn’t tell us why respondents think what they do. It doesn’t tell us what they know. It doesn’t tell us what they fear. The truth is people being asked a question and responding off-the-cuff are as likely to say something they don’t mean or not even know what they mean.

    It’s lazy stuff intended solely for generating something thrown on a TV screen for thirty seconds when CNN and other “news” organizations can’t find enough filler between commercials.

  20. SenyorDave says:

    @Grumpy Realist: yes, none of them are thinking: if we tear this up, what happens? everyone and his relative decides to raise sanctions and resume trade with Iran.

    Exactly. Schumer said we would impose sanctions on companies doing business with Iran. I think the EU would have something to say about that. Also, the US actually participates in the WTO, and I suspect they would slap us down if we tried to impose sanctions. The US is going to start a trade war with Germany, France, England. That would go really well.

  21. al-Ameda says:

    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.

    Most Americans couldn’t locate Iran on a labeled map of the world.

    But really, many seemingly contradictory things can simultaneously be true:

    Most Americans disapproved of the two shutdowns of the federal government engineered by the Republican Party, and disapproved of the GOP Congress who shut the government down, yet Americans elected more like-minded Republicans to Congress.

    Americans know nothing about this proposed treaty, know nothing about Iran, know nothing about the parties that are negotiating this treaty, do not want the increased possibility of yet another unnecessary war in the Middle East, so of course they oppose the treaty, in the absence of which increased hostilities and the possibility of war is increased.

  22. Stan says:

    If this survey,,

    is to be believed, a majority of American Jews support the treaty. If this article,,

    is to be believed, the Israeli defense establishment is split on the treaty, despite the opposition of the Israeli government. And if I am to be believed, the Likud establishment in Israel and its American supporters have no idea how much their actions are damaging America’s support of Israel.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @SenyorDave: Actually, the US would be starting a trade war with the rest of the world, aside from Israel.

    Good luck with that. We’d just be handing more power over to China to become the economic driver of the world.

    Sort of the equivalent of the kid who threatens to hold his breath until he turns blue.

  24. michael reynolds says:


    Yes, American Jews support the deal; Israelis Likudniks don’t. That’s why people like Chuck Schumer are scumbags. If he was representing his constituents it would be one thing, but he’s not, he’s serving the interests of a foreign, extremist political party.

    And of course Republicans are just being their usual idiot selves.

  25. Jeremy R says:

    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.

    VOX: The AP’s controversial and badly flawed Iran inspections story, explained

    The bottom line here is that this is all over a mild and widely anticipated compromise on a single set of inspections to a single, long-dormant site. The AP, deliberately or not, has distorted that into something that sounds much worse, but actually isn’t. The whole incident is a fascinating, if disturbing, example of how misleading reporting on technical issues can play into the politics of foreign policy.

    The report was not based not on an actual agreement, but rather on a copy of a draft agreement. The anonymous source who showed AP the document said there was a final version that is similar, but conspicuously refused to show AP the final version or go into specifics.

    “The oldest Washington game is being played in Vienna,” Lewis said. “And that is leaking what appears to be a prejudicial and one-sided account of a confidential document to a friendly reporter, and using that to advance a particular policy agenda.”

  26. mannning says:

    While the one side deal hinted at may be relatively innocuous, how many other side deals are there and what are their contents? Discovering that side deals exist at all is certainly worrying, since they are not available to analyze.

  27. Grewgills says:

    Do you think it is in anyone’s best interest for the US to walk away from the deal? Do you really think that Europe, China, and Russia will renew a sanctions regime if the US walks away from the current deal? Do you think that solely US only sanctions or even Anglosphere only sanctions will meaningfully slow down Iran from developing a nuke? Honestly, what would you have us do at this point?

  28. Tyrell says:

    This is interesting: “Secretary Kerry warns of consequences if deal is not approved !” Kerry says that failure to approve the ill fated Iran nuclear deal could very well result in the IMF choosing a new reserve currency, replacing the US dollar. Well, this has been talked about for months. But what would they replace it with ? The yen? Deutschmark ? Or a new, global currency system ? How would this affect the US ? Our market has been jittery, based on the economic situation in Europe and China’s collapse. Some are calling the stock martkets tumble as a “correction”. Does that mean that so many people still out of work is a “correction” ? How will this affect the people ? Imagine what will happen when the people wake up and maybe finding their dollars are no longer usable except at a neighborhood yard sale or at the local honky tonk! And value – imagine your money, holdings and property worth only 10% of what it was before ! Or maybe worth twice or three times as much – how would that affect things ? And what will the Federal Reserve do ?
    “US stock market – worst day in years” What is going on ?
    The IMF is expected to announce its decision on October 20. This is going to be an interesting fall. The Pope will come in September and speak at the UN before the world leaders. What will he announce ? The Jewish “Shemitah” will end in September. This has been accompanied in the past by major economic crises, which is exactly what some experts are predicting. Gold may go to $3000 or more ! Billionaires could be made overnight !
    Meanwhile the peoples’ attention is diverted to non-issues such as missing e-mails, celebrities, flat footballs, flags, and meaningless debates.
    Watch what happens, and get ready for anything. Things are about to change.

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @Tyrell: You forgot to blame the Illuminati and throw in some mention of “syzygy” in there. Oh, and how bitcoin is going to Save The Day!

    But all in all, pretty good attempt at mouth-frothing battiness. 8/10.

  30. Neil Hudelson says:



    That was absolutely phenomenal.

  31. al-Ameda says:


    Kerry says that failure to approve the ill fated Iran nuclear deal could very well result in the IMF choosing a new reserve currency, replacing the US dollar. Well, this has been talked about for months. But what would they replace it with ? The yen? Deutschmark ? Or a new, global currency system ? How would this affect the US ?

    I say replace our currency system with one based on Tin Foil Futures. I think enough people are unhinged so a Tin Foil based currency reserve system makes perfect sense. I think we should locate a national Tin Foil Reserve facility in Area 51?