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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Why Iran Deal's Public Support Is Plummeting
It’s been two weeks since the Iran deal was announced, and the American public’s discomfort with its terms is deepening. American Jews don’t like it, despite efforts by Obama’s court Jews to make it seem as though they’re far more supportive of it than Americans in general.
On Tuesday, CNN released a poll showing opposition to the deal at 52 percent and support at 42 percent. This came on the heels of last week’s Pew poll that showed 48 percent opposition and 38 percent support. It also followed passionate testimony on behalf of the deal in the Senate from Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
As I said last week in this space, it is a historical anomaly for the public to oppose an international agreement of this sort in this way. One example: In 1979, an NBC News/Associated Press poll showed an astonishing level of support — 81 percent, if you can believe it — for the proposed SALT 2 treaty in the wake of the negotiations between President Jimmy Carter and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev. (Once the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan at the end of the year, the SALT treaty was toast. It was never presented to Congress for a vote.)
Here’s something remarkable: The Israel Project released a poll on Tuesday of 1,000 American Jews. This complex poll, conducted by Olive Tree Strategies, had three different results.
Initially, before any other questions were asked about the Iran deal, Jews opposed it 45-40.
The poll then went through a series of six talking points about specific agreements in the deal. For each of these six talking points, it used the administration’s language to defend those points and provided a dispassionate rendering of the opposition’s arguments against it.
After going through those six talking points, opposition to the deal rose to 51-35.
A third series of questions designed to gauge levels of concern on points raised against the deal led to a final result in which American Jews opposed it 58-30.
This shows us a few things. First, American Jews basically feel the same way Americans in general feel about the deal. They’re against it, though they’re also far more positive about Obama in general and therefore some seem inclined on first blush to give him benefit of the doubt.
Dig a little deeper and expose them to the specific arguments pro and con and their distaste for the agreement grows and grows.
Ah, but Obama’s court Jews will say, we have a poll, too! J Street released a survey yesterday as well, showing 60 percent Jewish support for the Iran deal.
Not so fast. In the first place, its survey took place between July 21 and July 23; the Israel Project poll ran from July 21-July 26 and is therefore a little fresher.
Second, the J Street survey used the same wording that an ABC News/Washington Post poll completed on July 19 had used. It found 56 percent support for the deal.
But of course it did, since the question the ABC/Post poll had asked was basically pure administration spin with no counter-argument.
The ABC/Post question copied by J Street ran as follows: “The US and other countries have announced a deal to lift economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran agreeing not to produce nuclear weapons. International inspectors would monitor Iran’s facilities, and if Iran was caught breaking the agreement economic sanctions would be imposed again. Do you support or oppose this agreement?”
When Pew asked the question without embellishment, the result was 48-38 against. When CNN asked it without embellishment, the result was 52-42 against. When the Israel Project asked it of Jews alone without embellishment, it was 45-40 against. The ABC/Post poll is an outlier, and so is the J Street poll.
Liberal Jews who want to support the deal — like Reps. Sander Levin and John Yarmuth, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein — will surely use these bad data points to shore up their case and comfort themselves. They’d better be wary. The hidden danger for them can be found in the Israel Project poll, and it’s this: The more people know, the more they are inclined to oppose it.