Democratic pollster Mark Mellman has just released a poll of 800 registered voters on Iran showing a startling degree of opposition to President Obama’s handling of Iran. Mellman reports:

President Obama speaks by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in September. (Pete Souza for the White House via Agence France-Presse) President Obama speaks by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in September. (Pete Souza for the White House via Agence France-Presse)

Americans across both political parties and all demographics overwhelmingly say Congress must approve any final agreement with Iran (69-25%), favor bipartisan Congressional legislation that would trigger new sanctions on Tehran, and want Iran’s nuclear capability fully eliminated – including by military strikes, if necessary – as preferable to leaving the Islamic Republic with the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Voters also universally rejected administration efforts to keep its interim agreement with Iran secret, demanding the deal be made public 68-26 percent. . . . The survey finds support for the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act by a more than 2-to-1 margin (63-28), with those who “strongly support” outnumbering those “strongly opposed” by nearly 3-to-1 (49-17), after being presented with both arguments.

Americans across all demographic and political segments express deep distrust of Iran (83-15%), say any final diplomatic agreement must require that Iran fully dismantle its enrichment capability (83-12%), be approved by Congress (69-25%), and do so before sanctions relief is granted (62-32%).

In other words, just about everything the president is doing is strongly opposed by Americans (66 to 30 percent), including Democrats. Moreover, “Americans want any final deal with Iran to prevent Tehran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, and absent such an agreement, would support targeted military strikes (68-21%) to do so.”

The results, unsurprisingly, match the bipartisan effort in the Senate to pass sanctions that would go into effect if Iran cheats on the interim deal or doesn’t reach a final deal in six months. Its findings are also in sync with the recommendations of the president’s former Iran adviser, Dennis Ross.

Why, then, is the president pursuing a policy that top Iran experts think is dangerous and which bipartisan majorities of the American people oppose? We can only surmise that he is poorly advised and therefore confused; acting willfully against the advice of advisers who do know better; thinks Israel will take care of Iran in the end; and/or is so determined to retreat from the world that he is willing to tolerate Iran’s nuclear weapons capacity.

Frankly, the reason is irrelevant. What matters for Congress is that both smart policy and good politics should prompt passage of conditional sanctions and a credible determination to use force and/or assist Israel’s use of force to prevent Iran from reaching a nuclear weapons threshold.