The headline over the Washington Post article proclaims, Poll: Clear majority supports nuclear deal with Iran.
By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.
In the very next sentence the Post gives us the bad news:
But the survey — released hours before Tuesday’s negotiating deadline — also finds few Americans are hopeful that such an agreement will be effective.
The wording of the questions is always important. In this case the first question of a six question poll asks:
Thinking now about the situation with Iran - would you support or oppose an agreement in which the United States and other countries would lift major economic sanctions against Iran, in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program in a way that makes it harder for it to produce nuclear weapons?
I emphasize the conditional clause in the question above. Who wouldn't support a deal that would make it more difficult or impossible for Iran to develop nuclear weapons? Still, under that rosy scenario only 59% support a deal.
Which brings us to the the subject of the second question in poll.
How confident are you that such an agreement would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons - very confident, somewhat confident, not so confident or not confident at all?
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they were not confident. But the article goes on to analyze the demographics, making claims along the way that are not supported by the underlying poll questions and their published responses.
The Post-ABC survey finds that even those with limited hopes of a fruitful agreement are open to a deal. Support crests above 80 percent among respondents who are at least “somewhat” confident a deal will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. But even among those who are “not so confident” about an agreement succeeding, two in three support a deal. Only among those who are not confident at all about stopping Iran does opposition rise to a majority, though even here, 31 percent support a deal.
What does it mean, "open to a deal?" But more importantly, was it a condition of the first question that a deal would be effective? In other words, was the respondent told that the hypothetical deal would be effective? That would explain why some of those 59% with no confidence might go along with a deal anyway.
In any case, no such breakdown can be found in the list of questions and responses. Nowhere can you find the follow up question, "Would you support a deal given your level of confidence?" And supposing there were such a question, how might that one have been worded? "Which do you support, a nuclear deal with Iran or World War III?"
And then there is the political party breakdown.
Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a...
Democrat 30 Republican 22 Independent 38 Other 07 No Opinion 03
That's almost a 3 to 2 ratio of Democrats over Republicans at a time when Republican fortunes are rising. That weights the poll in favor of a deal, since a clear majority of Democrats are in favor while a majority of Republicans oppose. Another example of our cheerleading media pulling out the stops for an Obama legacy? Never mind what history has told us.
Neville Chamberlain did not achieve peace in his time by ceding the Czech region of the Sudetenland to Adolph Hitler in 1938. In a matter of months after the Munich Pact was signed, Hitler went ahead and took the rest of Czechoslovakia, and shortly after that, German troops marched into Poland. World War II was on, and Britain was in it, in spite of Chamberlain's agreement with Hitler.
This is not to second guess Neville Chamberlain. He is often portrayed as oblivious to the threat posed by Hitler. But he may just have made the best of a bad situation, intending to delay the inevitable in order to give Britain a little time to prepare for war.
The same can't be said of the Washington Post. There is a presumption at the Post: Any deal that Obama enters into will be effective. Any deal. The Post seems willing promote that fiction for the sake of an Obama legacy.
The public has no such confidence in the Obama administration's ability to cut an effective deal. A recent Pew poll shows a heavy majority does not trust Obama to make a deal with Iran on his own.
Ahead of a March 31 deadline for nuclear talks with Iran, more Americans approve (49%) than disapprove (40%) of the United States negotiating directly with Iran over its nuclear program. But the public remains skeptical of whether Iranian leaders are serious about addressing international concerns over their nuclear enrichment program.
If a nuclear agreement is reached, most Americans (62%) want Congress to have final authority over the deal. Just 29% say President Obama should have final authority over any nuclear agreement with Iran.
In the Pew poll it was only the Democrat demographic in which a majority (51%) thought Obama should have the final say, while 67% percent of Independents and 83% of Republicans chose Congress.
Pretending that we can trust Iran to stop nuclear weapons development is foolishness, and most Americans recognize this. And many Americans have probably asked themselves the more realistic poll question: "Do you support a conventional war now to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, or nuclear war later after they've done it?"