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Tracking Public Opinion on Iran

by Shmuel Rosner

December 8, 2013 | 5:58 pm

(Updated: 11/10/2014)

This page follows the recent public opinion polls on Iran.

Recent updates

* A recent J Street poll taken among American Jews finds that 84 percent of American Jews would favor (either strongly or somewhat) a deal with Iran that would "restrict Iran's enrichment of uranium to levels that are suitable for civilian energy purposes only, and place full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons."

* According to a Chicago Council survey (September), 69% percent of Americans are prepared to use US troops to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

* An Israel Hayom poll (October, 24) found that 48% percent of Israelis believe that President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran will hurt Israel. Only 13% disagreed, and 39% had no opinion.

Opinions on nuclear agreement

American public opinion- The last few surveys on the interim agreement and on a possible future long-term deal with Iran (the most recent PPC-Gfk aked about a long term agreement) find that there is currently wide support for a nuclear deal in the American public. This is quite a change from earlier Pew and Fox polls which preceeded them (which were, in turn, quite a change from the polls that preceeded them). One can't help but wonder whether the extreme differences between the recent polls we have assembled are not largely a matter of phrasing and methodology... In any case, here are the figures from the latest polls which asked Americans about their attitude towards agreement -

 

Poll

Date

For the agreement

Against the agreement

No opinion/ Refuse to andswer

Program for Public Consultation-Gfk 06/28-07/07 61% 35% 4%
AP-GfK 01/17-01/21 60% 36% 4%
5YouGov/Economist 01/18-01/20 58% 25% 18%
Fox 12/14-12/16 16% 30% 54% ('Don't know enough to say' was an option)
AP-GfK 12/5-12/9 59% 38% 3%
Pew 12/3-12/8 32% 42% 26%

Hart (NBC/WSJ)1

11/26- 12/1

34%

22%

44%

Reuters/Ipsos

11/24-11/26

44%

22%

34%

CNN/ORC*

11/18-11/20

56%

39%

5%

Washington Post/ABC*

11/14- 17/11

64%

30%

6%

 

1 The poll was conducted by Hart Research ("The Democratic Half of the NBC/WSJ poll") for the Liberal organization 'Americans for Chance'.

* Taken before the interim deal was signed.

Israeli public opinion- It seems fairly clear that Israelis are generally quite skeptical toward the Iran deal.

A recent Israel Hayom poll (October, 24) found that 48% percent of Israelis believe that President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran will hurt Israel. Only 13% disagreed, and 39% had no opinion.

A poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) after the interim agreement was signed asked Israelis whether the deal "will indeed lead to the cessation of Iran’s nuclear weapons program". An overwhelming 77% of the Israeli population said that it would not. Here are the full results-   

Arabs

Jews

General Public

 

15.4

3.4

5.4

 Strongly believe

21.2

10.8

12.6

 Moderately believe

33.6

30.4

30.9

 Don’t believe too much

24.6

50.5

46.2

 Don’t believe at all

5.3

4.9

5.0

 Don’t know/Refuse

 

In the same poll, Israelis were asked to rank Benjamin Netanyhu's handling of this issue from 1 to 10. Around 55% of the General Public gave him scores between 7 and 10 (less than 20% gave him scores below 5), showing that the majority of Israelis seem to generally support Netanyahu's Hawkish stance towards Iran's nuclear program.  

Right before the deal was signed (11/20), Panels Politics' Menachem Lazar asked Israelis more directly whether they believe that the deal was good or bad for Israel. These were the results-

Good for Israel

15%

Bad for Israel

63%

No opinion

23%

 
Regarding the severity of the issue:  A September survey by Mitvim, a left-leaning Israeli think tank, found that only 12% of Israelis believe that the Iranian threat should be Israel's top foreign policy priority.

Attitudes on attacking Iran

American public opinion on a US Attack- Last November's Reuters/Ipsos poll also asked Americans, for the first time in a while, a question about a US attack in Iran (following the new interim deal)-

If this deal fails, should the US... (continue diplomatic efforts, increase sanctions, or use military force)?

The results were as follows:

Increase Sanctions

49%

Resume Diplomatic efforts

31%

Use Military Force

20%

 

These results, coupled with the fact that this question hasn't been asked too often in recent months, might be a testament to how the US military option is virtually not part of US public discourse at this point in time. 

That being said, the more recent YouGov/Economit poll asked Americans whether they would 'approve'  or 'disapprove' the use of US military force in case negotiations fail. Here are the question and the answers-

If negotiations fail, do you approve or disapprove of the use of military force against Iran by the US?

Approve Strongly

15%

Approve Somewhat

24%

Disapprove Somewhat

21%

Disapprove Strongly

24%

Not Sure

16%

 

American public opinion on an Israeli attack on Iran- The Reuters/Ipsos poll also asked Americans how they would react in case of an Israeli attack on Iran:

If Israel were to launch military strikes on Iran to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, would you approve or disapprove this action?

In total, 40% would approve the strike (including 25% who would approve the strike even if the US government would not support it) while 20% would not.

The YouGov/Economist poll also asked about the Israeli military option and found that 48% of Americans would approve an Israeli attack, while 35% would disapprove. 

Israeli opinion on an Israeli attack- a recent Israel Hayom/New Wave poll asked Israelis whether they agree with Benjamin Netanyahu's statement that "Israel should face Iran alone, if necessary". Here are the results-

Agree

66%

Disagree

22%

No opinion

13%

 

General Attitudes toward Iran

A curious recent CBS/NYT poll finds that 53% of American would be "in favor of the U.S. working with Iran in a limited capacity to resolve the situation in Iraq". Only 39% oppose the idea. 

A Gallup poll from February asked Americans whether they consider the Iranian nuclear program to be a 'critical threat' to America's vital interests. 76% answered with a yes, while only 18% answered 'Important, not critical' (those were the two options presented). 

On the other hand, Gallup also shows us there is a sharp decline in the number of Americans who see Iran as 'the United States' greatest enemy'. While two years ago 32% gave the title to Iran, now only 16% answered with Iran. When it comes to country favorability, though, Gallup tells us that a whopping 84% of Americans don't view Iran favorably, while only 12% treat it favorably.

A Gallup poll from last September asked Americans whether they consider Iran as an ally, friendly but not an ally, unfriendly, or an enemy to the US. 83% of the respondents said that Iran was unfriendly/Enemy, while 10% answered friend/ally. 

A fascinating comprehensive survey conducted by James Zogby in 20 Arab countries (Published late February 2013) pointed out 'a growing antipathy toward Iran across the Arab World and among Iran’s non-Arab neighbors'. The survey shows that Iran is currently viewed unfavorably in 14 of the 20 Arab countries covered in the study; that only 3 of the 20 countries view Iran as a 'good role model to follow';and that majorities in 16 of the 20 countries agree that Iran is contributing to a sectarian division in the Arab world. Definitely worth a look.  

Iranian Attitudes

An interesting Gallup poll (published in November) shows that an overwhelming 85% majority of Iranians feel that the sanctions have effected their livelihoods (50% said it effected them 'a great deal', 35% said somewhat). Another very interesting observation from that same poll (based on results from June)- 

Iranians hold the U.S. chiefly responsible for the sanctions, with nearly half of Iranians (46%) pinning these sanctions on the U.S. Another 13% consider their own government most responsible, followed by 9% who blame Israel, and 6% each who blame Western European countries and the United Nations. 

A May-June Gallup survey asked Iranians whether they approve of Iran 'developing its own nuclear power capabilities for military use'. 41% disapproved, 34% approved and 25% answered with a 'don't know/refuse to answer'.

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