The recent diplomatic accord with Iran is getting a split decision from the American public.
The latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found a narrow plurality, 48 percent, said they support easing sanctions in exchange for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program for six months. They embraced the goal of giving the United States and others time to craft a permanent nuclear pact with the rogue nation.
At the same time, nearly as many, 45 percent, said the United States now should impose additional sanctions on Iran—even though the White House and others say such a move would cripple the nascent talks.
Overall, the poll shows just how little margin for error the White House has with the public as it undertakes one of the biggest and most fraught foreign policy ventures of President Obama's term.
The responses split along party lines even though Obama's name was not included in the question, with 62 percent of Democrats supporting the six-month Iran agreement versus only 33 percent of Republicans. Independents fell in between, with 47 percent support.
While race often carries outsize influence in political polls, it did not here: 49 percent of whites said they support the temporary Iran accord and 47 percent of nonwhites agreed. Notably, 47 percent of white men who did not graduate from college—a group that has persistently been the least supportive of Obama and his policies—supported the accord, about the same rate as the rest of the country (48 percent).
Support for the agreement did rise with income, with 54 percent of those earning more than $50,000 in support. Only 45 percent of those earning less than $50,000 were in favor.
By 1 percentage point, a very narrow plurality of those polled, 46 percent, said they oppose layering further economic sanctions on Iran now. There was a divide along gender lines. Men favored imposing further sanctions by 10 percentage points more than women, 50 to 40 percent. Older Americans also preferred slapping on more sanctions, with 54 percent of those above age 50 in favor of new restrictions compared with only 38 percent of those 49 and younger.
The split by party was less stark over whether the United States should add more sanctions despite the accord: 56 percent of Republicans were in favor versus 45 percent of Democrats. Interestingly, independents were the least supportive of such a diplomatic maneuver, with only 41 percent in favor.
Interviews for the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll were by conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates from Dec. 5-8. The survey of 1,002 adults, conducted via landline and cell phone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
This article appears in the December 12, 2013 edition of NJ Daily.