Poll: Majority of Americans Favor Diplomacy

July 14, 2014

           Nearly two-thirds of the American public favors making a deal with Iran that would limit its uranium enrichment capacity and impose additional intrusive inspections in exchange for some sanctions relief, according to a new study by the Program for Public Consultation. Only 35 percent of the public calls for stopping the current negotiations and increasing sanctions to halt Iran’s enrichment program. The study was fielded from June 28 to July 7, with a sample of 748 American adults who were briefed about the current negotiations. The following are excerpts from the report.

Presentation of Options and Evaluation of Arguments for Each
           Respondents were presented the two major options for dealing with Iran that are being promoted in the current discourse:
a) making a deal that allows Iran to enrich but only to a low level, provides more intrusive inspections and gradually lifts some sanctions;
b) not continuing the current negotiations, imposing more sanctions, and pressing Iran to agree to end all uranium enrichment.
          They then evaluated a series of arguments for and against each option. All arguments were found convincing by substantial majorities, with neither option having a clear advantage at this stage. Some arguments for each option were more persuasive than others.
Evaluation of Options Separately
           Both before and after hearing the pro and con arguments, respondents were asked to evaluate each policy option separately in terms of how acceptable or tolerable they would find it if the US pursued that approach. Before hearing pro and con arguments, negotiating limited enrichment was found acceptable by just under half and ‘just tolerable’ by a third, with those finding it acceptable rising several points after hearing the arguments. The option of increasing sanctions in hopes of stopping enrichment did not do as well: it was initially found acceptable by a third and ‘just tolerable’ by three in ten, with the number finding it acceptable dropping several points after the pro and con arguments.
Final Recommendation
         Asked for their final recommendation between the options, a six in ten majority recommended making a deal that allows limited uranium enrichment rather than ramping up sanctions in an effort to get Iran to terminate all enrichment. More than six in ten Republicans and Democrats took this position, as well just over half of independents. Those with higher levels of education were substantially more supportive.
US-Iran Cooperation on Iraq
           Six in ten favor the US and Iran working together to address the current crisis in Iraq.
Confidence-Building Measures
           Very large majorities favor a variety of confidence-building measures: direct talks between the US and Iran on issues of mutual concern; greater cultural, educational, and sporting exchanges; and providing more access to each other’s journalists. A more modest majority also favors greater trade, but views are divided on having more Americans and Iranians visiting each other’s countries as tourists.
Views of Iranian Government and Relations Between Islam and the West
           Interestingly, support for cooperative measures between the US and Iran is high, though a large majority has a negative view of the Iranian government and nearly half say that the Islamic and Western traditions are not compatible and reject the view that it is possible to find common ground.
Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
            Seven in ten favor a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone that would include Israel as well as Islamic countries, and three in four favor the general goal of eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons.
Click here for the full report.