New University of Maryland Poll Shows Iran Nuclear Deal Backed by Large Majority of Americans

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Fifty-one Percent See Netanyahu Speech to Congress as Inappropriate

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Rich Robinson 202-232-7500
Laura Ours 301-405-5722

Negotiations over a proposed deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program are coming to a head while a new study finds a clear majority of Americans – 61 percent – support an agreement that would limit Iran’s enrichment capacity and impose additional intrusive inspections in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. This included 61 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents.

The alternative option, being promoted by some members of Congress, calls for ending the current negotiations, and increasing sanctions in an effort to get Iran to stop all uranium enrichment. This approach was recommended by 36 percent.

The study was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation and the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, with Steven Kull and Shibley Telhami as principal investigators. It was fielded with a representative sample of 710 Americans drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel.

The deal endorsed by a majority specified that Iran could enrich uranium only to the level necessary for nuclear energy, and provided that it accepts intrusive inspections to ensure that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. Some sanctions would be gradually removed, provided that Iran upholds the agreement.

“Americans find convincing the arguments for making a deal as well as for ending the negotiations and ramping up sanctions,” said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation. “But when asked to finally decide, a clear majority breaks in favor of a deal.”

Respondents were also asked about their views of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu giving a speech to Congress, without a diplomatic invitation, on the Iran negotiations. Fifty-one percent thought giving such a speech would be inappropriate, while 48 percent thought it would be appropriate.

There were major partisan differences: 65 percent of Democrats thought the speech would be inappropriate, as did 55 percent of independents, while 65 percent of Republicans thought it would be appropriate.

Views of Netanyahu have become more negative among Democrats and independents. As compared to Sadat Chair polling in November, favorable views dropped from 25 to 16 percent while unfavorable views increased from 22 to 26 percent. Among independents favorable views dropped from 21 to 14 percent, while unfavorable views rose from 14 to 21 percent. Republicans are statistically unchanged, with 52 percent favorable.

“It is striking that in only three months, Democrats and independents moved from more holding favorable views of Netanyahu than unfavorable ones, to exactly the opposite,” said Dr. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “This is almost certainly related to the controversy over his speech to Congress.”

The study was unique in that respondents were first given a briefing on the issue and evaluated arguments for and against the options of making a deal with Iran or pursuing further sanctions. The briefing and arguments were vetted and refined with Congressional staffers from both parties and other experts. Majorities found the arguments for both options convincing.

A report on the survey’s results, “Americans on the Iran Nuclear Issue,” can be found at http://public-consultation.org/studies/Iran_030315.pdf

The questionnaire for the survey can be found at http://public-consultation.org/studies/Iran_quaire_030315.pdf

Sadat Forum and Poll Discussion: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, University of Maryland
Dr. Telhami and Dr. Kull will release results from their groundbreaking new poll on American Public Policy toward Iran at the upcoming Sadat Forum at the University of Maryland. Expert panelists will discuss the results of the poll and related implications on the policy world, as well as numerous timely topics centered on Iran.

Sadat Forum: The Nuclear Issue—Current State of Play
3:30-5 p.m. TOMORROW Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
Colony Ballroom, Adele H. Stamp Student Union
University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
More information: http://ter.ps/sadatforum

Event live-stream: WATCH LIVE at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3
http://new.livestream.com/UMDThestamp/SadatForum2015

Discussion featuring:

Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, member of the Iran Project, Career Ambassador with experience spanning five decades, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs;

Dr. Jessica Tuchman Mathews, member of the Iran Project, Distinguished Fellow and Former President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;

Dr. Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, former advisor of the U.S. State Department on Iran, and author of Iran’s Political Economy Since the Revolution (forthcoming)

Moderated by:

Dr. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development, University of Maryland

With welcoming remarks by:

Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland
Gregory Ball, Dean, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, UMD

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Graham Binder
University Of Maryland
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