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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/19/2009

Post-ABC poll: few partisan fissures on Iran nukes

Americans overwhelmingly see Iran's nuclear program as geared toward the development of atomic weaponry, and more than eight in 10 support direct diplomatic talks to try to resolve the situation, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As negotiators from the United States, France and Russia meet with Iran starting today in Vienna, public opinion in the U.S. is decidedly behind one possible outcome should the talks fail: 78 percent in the new poll support international economic sanctions against Iran to try to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

There's less, though still sizable backing for military engagement, with 42 percent of Americans supporting the bombing of Iran's nuclear development sites and 33 percent advocating invading the country with U.S. ground forces (54 and 62 percent, respectively, oppose these actions).

Three in 10 support direct financial incentives such as aid money or more trade; two-thirds of Americans oppose these potential inducements.

Public reviews of how President Obama is handling the situation with Iran have changed little since the spring and summer: 52 percent of Americans now approve of how he is doing in this area, 39 percent disapprove. About seven in 10 Democrats approve of how the president is dealing with Iran, while a similar proportion of Republicans give him low marks here. Independents split 51 percent positive, 41 percent negative.

Partisanship is, however, less apparent in terms of possible policy options. Democrats are somewhat more apt to favor financial incentives to try to stave off the Iranian nuclear program, and Republicans are more likely to back military action, but the differences are minor.

Ideology proves a sharper divide here, with liberals staunchly opposed to military action and conservatives more apt to favor engagement. By contrast, conservatives sharply oppose financial incentives while liberals are about evenly split on the question. But one point of agreement emerges: broad majorities on both ends of the ideological spectrum back economic sanctions to discourage Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling the situation with Iran?

             -- Approve ---   - Disapprove -
             NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
All          52       24      39       27

Democrat     71       40      22       13
Republican   18        4      69       49
Independent  51       20      41       30

Liberal      78       45      17       11
Moderate     51       23      43       32
Conservative 40       12      48       33

Q. To try to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, would you support or oppose...

Direct diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran to try to resolve the situation

             Support   Oppose   No op.
All            82        18       1

Democrat       84        15       1
Republican     78        21       1
Independent    82        17       1

Liberal        86        14       0
Moderate       83        16       1
Conservative   79        20       *

Imposing international economic sanctions against Iran

             Support   Oppose   No op.
All            78        18       4

Democrat       78        19       3
Republican     85        14       1
Independent    76        19       5

Liberal        72        28       1
Moderate       77        19       4
Conservative   84        12       4

The United States bombing Iran's nuclear development sites

             Support   Oppose   No op.
All            42        54       4

Democrat       38        57       5
Republican     49        49       1
Independent    42        54       4

Liberal        24        74       3
Moderate       40        58       3
Conservative   56        38       6

Invading with U.S. forces to remove the Iranian government from power

             Support   Oppose   No op.
All            33        62       4

Democrat       32        63       5
Republican     40        57       3
Independent    30        65       5

Liberal        22        76       2
Moderate       30        65       5
Conservative   44        51       5

Offering Iran financial incentives such as aid money, or more trade, if it abandons any effort to develop nuclear weapons

             Support   Oppose   No op.
All            30        67       2

Democrat       38        57       5
Republican     28        69       3
Independent    25        75       0

Liberal        47        50       3
Moderate       31        68       1
Conservative   22        75       2

By  |  12:00 PM ET, 10/19/2009

Categories:  Post Polls

 
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