Americans are optimistic about the nuclear deal with Iran, and side with U.S. President Barack Obama in his running dispute with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a U.S. poll published Wednesday by Bloomberg found. The survey by Selzer and Co. found Americans backing Obama over Netanyahu, 47 percent to 34 percent, and the Iran deal, 49 percent to 43 percent.
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But those figures masked the radical divide between Republicans and Democrats on the two issues. The poll found that GOP voters' sympathies went with Netanyahu over Obama in their feud, 67 percent to 16 percent, while Democrats lined up behind their president and party leader against the Israeli premier, 76 percent to 9 percent.
On whether the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and the U.S.-led world powers was likely to make the world safer by containing Iran's ability to build nuclear weapons, 70 percent of Democrats said they were optimistic it would, compared to only 31 percent of Republicans who held that view.
Interestingly, only 47 percent of Americans said the United States should act on its national interests even when they don't match Israel's, compared to 45 percent who said America should support Israel even when the two countries' interests clashed. Sixty-four percent of Democrats took the pro-American view, while 67 percent of Republicans took the pro-Israel position.
On all three questions, the responses of Independent voters roughly matched those of Americans overall.
J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer and Co., said last month's letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators who sought to go over Obama's head on the nuclear deal, together with some of the poll's findings, showed that the old American foreign policy principle that "politics stops at the water's edge" is losing its hold on the public. Taking sides against an American president is "fair game in a way it wasn't before," she said.
Another conclusion Selzer came to from the poll is that “Israel is an emotionally charged issue, period. It’s affecting a broader audience than the Jewish vote.”
The survey of 1,008 adults was taken April 6-8. The margin of error for the full sample is 3.1 percentage points; for Democrats alone, 5.6 points; for Republicans alone, 6 points; and for Independents alone, 5 points.