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Political Insiders Poll

How detrimental is the Iranian threat to President Obama’s reelection prospects?

Democrats  (106 votes)

Major detriment: 4%
Somewhat of a detriment: 29%
Not a detriment: 67%


Major detriment

“Anything that makes Obama look weak on foreign policy is bad, and Iran is so combustible it poses the most serious threat.”

Somewhat of a detriment


“If that situation explodes (pardon the pun), the president’s carefully constructed foreign-policy/antiterrorism record will implode.”

“The Iranian [threat] is the great unknown of this campaign.”

“Bad Iranian news would not be a good thing for Obama, though this election is much more likely to be one fought on economic policy rather than foreign policy.”

“Anything you can’t control in a campaign is a potential problem. Clearly, the Iranians can’t be controlled.”


“Very few undecideds will take this into consideration, and no one is going to change support over the issue—unless it causes gas prices to rise, at which point it will become a major detriment.”

Not a detriment

“The irresponsible GOP rhetoric on Iran may fire up their base, but this election is about the economy, not foreign policy.”

“To say it would be detrimental is to possess a crystal ball. My grade level ain’t that high. Sorry.”

“As long as it remains only a threat, it is not something which moves voters.”

“If it erupts, he will handle it in good fashion, which will make him presidential and divert attention away from domestic problems.”

“It is not a detriment now; no American voter is focused on it at all and won’t be unless something happens there to get voters’ attention—but even then, the economy is a pretty big elephant in the election room.”

“This is the president who killed [Osama] bin Laden and helped get rid of [Muammar el-]Qaddafi. I don’t think anyone is doubting his chops on taking on dictators.”

“Despite the manufactured hysteria, it’s a narrow-based concern, at best.”

 “Americans are tired of going to war, so a tempered approach to dealing with Iran is what most independents want.”

“Foreign-policy issues have a tendency to make presidents appear more presidential, which is not what you want to happen if you’re Mitt Romney.”


How detrimental is the Iranian threat to President Obama’s reelection prospects?

Republicans (105  votes)

Major detriment: 14%
Somewhat of a detriment: 53%
Not a detriment: 33%

Major detriment

“Obama’s Middle Eastern foreign policy is by accident, not design, and Iran is the worst example of that.”

“The Obama theory of constructive engagement with tyrants and despots has proven neither constructive nor engaging. Iran’s entry into the nuclear-arms brethren is a major blow to American exceptionalism.”

Somewhat of a detriment

“He has demonstrated an inability to influence Iranian decision-making. Having said that, the economy is still the overriding factor, and his weak foreign policy won’t impact much.”

“Putting aside the possibility of a unilateral Israeli strike, if the Iranians produce a bomb, it will highlight the ineptitude of Obama’s engagement policy.”

“He’s a timid president with respect to flexing U.S. muscle. A pugnacious Iran will only remind voters of that fact.”

“If he looks weak about Iran, it will undo the bin Laden takedown. It becomes an interesting side story handled poorly.”

“An international crisis usually causes the American people to rally around the flag (and the president). An American or Israeli strike at nuclear facilities in Iran will cause gas prices to soar. Tensions alone in the [Persian] Gulf keep gas prices higher.”

“It depends on how well he handles [it], but likely will remind voters why they prefer the GOP for national security.”

“President continues to look weak around the world, and it shows.”

Not a detriment

“People who care a lot about foreign policy, absent an immediate crisis, are not swing voters. They are already either with the president or against him.”

“Most voters recognize the Iranians are hard to deal with regardless of who the incumbent is, and bad deals with North Korea never hurt President Bush.”

“Issue #22 to most voters.”

“Obama has mishandled the Iranian threat, but not to a Jimmy Carter-ish extent. Foreign-policy differences are almost invisible this year.”

This article appears in the June 2, 2012 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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