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The crucible of the Iran nuclear agreement: The American people vs. political Washington

As Congress reconvenes this week, both House and Senate are considering the most important security legislation that our country has seen this century – the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The American people overwhelmingly oppose this agreement. However, even before the actual debate begins in Congress the media and the political class want to declare a winner. Unfortunately, in typical Washington fashion there would likely be one winner – insider politics – and one big loser, the American people. 

In truly cynical Washington fashion, Obama, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and their allies are now urging Democratic senators to filibuster. How ironic that Iran’s Supreme Leader has insisted that the Iranian president let the parliament be heard on this issue. However, those who assume that the Iran matter is a done deal have not reckoned with the American public opinion.  

Since the July announcement of this agreement, public opinion has moved rapidly against it. On behalf of Secure America Now (SAN), we have conducted four national surveys on the Iran deal and charted the rising opposition to it. From the beginning, Obama and Secretary Kerry’s arguments have been rejected. Whether it be that the deal will make America more secure, or that it is the best way to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, or that it is the comprehensive inspections in monitoring regime in history – all fail by substantial majorities.
Our just completed national poll of 800 likely 2016 voters interviewed on September 2nd and 3rd shows that:

-69 percent of voters believe the US Congress should be required to vote on the Iran deal. Only 22 percent say let it go into effect without a vote. Indeed even Democrats by 10 points believe that a vote should be required.

-78 percent want their senators and congressman to vote no on the deal because it lifts sanctions and provides Iran with $100 billion that it can use to finance its terrorist activities. Only 10 percent said yes. 64 percent of the Democrats say vote no.

Even more ominous, there is a real prospect of potential political damage for the supporters of this deal. Consider these results:

-Only 29 percent said they would vote for their senators or congressmen if they supported the deal. A majority said they would NOT EVER vote for that person again in the future. Forty five percent of Democrats expressing an opinion said that they would not vote for their senator ever again and 66 percent of independents expressing a view said they would never vote for that person again.

-65 percent say that it is so important that Congress votes on the Iran deal that if their senators voted to stop a vote in the Senate that they would never vote for them again. Only 24 percent say that it is unnecessary to vote. A plurality of Democrats (45 percent) say that it is important that there be a vote.

-Similarly 50 percent – representing three-fifths of those with an opinion – said that if their Congressional representative tries to stop a vote in Congress that they will not ever vote for that representative again. Only one-third said that It would not affect their future support. Even more significant were the results among Democrats. Forty one percent – 53 percent of those with an opinion – said that they would never vote for their representative or senator again while a minority of 36 percent said it would not affect their vote – 47 percent of those with a committed vote.

What this data suggests is that the American people’s feelings about the Iran deal are anything but indifferent. So as Congress reconvenes this week, let us remember that nothing is over until it is over. It will be up to the American people to let members of Congress know that they demand to have a full and meaningful debate and a full vote of the Senate and House on the merits of the agreement.

The voice of the American people is echoing best the words of Winston Churchill when he said of the Munich agreement “This is only the first sip, the foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year…” And that fateful judgment by Churchill against the leadership of the Western democracies who had accepted the Munich deal: “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

McLaughlin is a Republican pollster. Caddell is a Democratic pollster.


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