Americans express broad doubts that negotiations between the U.S. and Iran will lead to an agreement that prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and President Barack Obama’s approval ratings for handling the U.S. relationship with Iran have taken a hit, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.
In the days leading up to the deadline for a deal, 64% said the negotiations led by the U.S. and its allies will not result in a deal that prevents Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, while just 30% think such a deal will emerge. Democrats are the only partisan group among which a majority said a deal that prevents a weapon is likely – 51% think it will happen – while only 25% of independents and 16% of Republicans agreed.
Obama’s approval rating for handling the U.S. relationship with Iran has dipped from 48% in April to 38% now. Among Democrats, his rating has fallen from 79% approving in April to 66% today. In the April poll, most Americans (53%) said they favored an agreement that would ease some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for major restrictions on its nuclear program and its submitting to international inspections. Nearly three-quarters said they saw Iran as a serious threat to the U.S.
In the current poll, just 23% of those who said they doubt the negotiations will lead to a deal that blocks an Iranian nuclear weapon said they approve of Obama’s management of the relationship, while 75% disapprove. Those who think an agreement will be made to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon are far more likely to approve of Obama’s handling of the relationship – some 71% do – in contrast to only 25% who disapprove.
The poll was conducted as the United States and its international partners have entered the final days of negotiations to see if they can seal a deal with Tehran. The original deadline for an agreement was Tuesday, but the parties announced it had been extended by a week amidst several remaining obstacles. Chief among them are determining the pace and mechanism for removing sanctions on Iran and the process and extent of inspectors’ access to Iran’s nuclear and military sites.
Already Republicans on Capitol Hill, long skeptical that the Obama administration will deliver a deal that halts Iran’s nuclear progress, are urging the White House to end negotiations.
“With the clock running out, and far-reaching U.S. concessions in the works, a bad deal is looking near certain,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Mr. President, I’ll be the last one to be critical if you walk away from this negotiating table.”
U.S. diplomats, however, are emphatic that they will only sanction a good deal with Iran and are optimistic that they will produce such an agreement.
“We can truly see a path forward that gets us to a very good agreement here,” a senior U.S. official said ahead of the final round of negotiations, currently taking place in Vienna.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone from June 26-28 among 1,017 adult Americans. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.