Americans like the idea of an Iranian nuclear deal. But they’re skeptical it will work.

The international community reached a deal to halt parts of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions leveled against the country. So what do Americans think of the idea? In theory, they are all for such a deal. But at the same time, they are pretty skeptical it will work.

That's all according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted during the middle of the month, before the early Sunday agreement was reached in Geneva.

Support for an agreement to lift sanctions in exchange for nuclear concessions was broad in the survey, with 64 percent of Americans voicing support for the idea. Just 30 percent said they opposed it.

There was little partisan dispute on the matter. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents said they favored such a deal. Only among those identifying with the tea party was there majority opposition (52 percent).

The questions of whether it will work, however, is a different matter.

Roughly six in 10 Americans (61 percent) said they were not confident such an arrangement would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. By comparison, 36 percent said they were confident such a deal would work.

Confidence in the idea is strongest among Democrats. Nearly half (48 percent) said they were confident it would work. Thirty-five percent of independents and just 27 percent of Republicans said the same thing.

In a sense, the views Americans expressed echoed some of the skepticism members of Congress voiced over the weekend.

"The interim deal has been and will continue to be met with healthy skepticism and hard questions, not just of the Iranians, but of ourselves and our allies involved in the negotiations," said House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

Said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.): "If there is no final deal at the end of six months, the interim deal will expire because it is not by its terms a final deal. And if Iran does not consent to a comprehensive agreement that ensures it cannot acquire a nuclear weapon, there is a broad consensus in Congress to impose even tougher sanctions.

The public is on President Obama's side when it comes to striking this deal. That's a rare bit of good news for the president in what has otherwise been a very rough political period. But next comes actual enforcement of it. And Americans -- as well as many members of Congress -- aren't exactly holding their breath for the agreement to achieve its intended purpose.

Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this post

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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