By a 2-to-1 margin, more Americans support the United States and other world powers pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran than oppose it, according to new results from the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Thirty-six percent of respondents say they back the deal, which intends to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon by allowing inspections into the country's nuclear sites in exchange for reducing economic sanctions that are currently in place. By comparison, 17 percent oppose it.
The good thing about an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline is that it can be moved without consequence. The international diplomatic talks with Iran, for example, were supposed to wrap up yesterday, but negotiators believe they're still making progress so they gave themselves an extension -- the new deadline is next Tuesday, July 7.
It's still unclear if an agreement will ultimately come together, and recent posturing from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei hasn't helped. But the process continues to move forward, and just yesterday, the International Atomic Energy Agency reportedly concluded that Iran is complying with requirements that it reduce its stocks of enriched uranium. Had the IAEA uncovered evidence to the contrary, the talks may have very well unraveled.
As for the domestic politics surrounding the nuclear negotiations, Senate Republicans continue to complain bitterly about the diplomatic efforts, though it's clear the public feels differently.
These results are largely unchanged from a similar poll a few months ago.
They're also in line with the latest Quinnipiac poll, which found most Americans support the potential agreement. Three other independent polls released since March showed similar public backing for the P5+1 process.
We're accustomed to seeing the occasional disconnect between the Beltway and the public, but the differences here are especially striking.
To revisit our coverage from April, it's important to remember that Republicans regularly suggest they've won the p.r. campaign in this debate.
Josh Kraushaar, a National Journal conservative, argued in the spring that Obama is dangerously "ignoring public opinion," willing to "bypass public resistance" to P5+1 diplomacy. Around the same time, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) expressed dismay that the White House is "circumventing the will of the American people," while former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) added that "public opinion" is not on Obama's side.
All of this is backwards. To date, there are exactly zero independent public-opinion surveys showing U.S. opposition to the diplomatic talks. Americans may be skeptical about the eventual outcome, but support for the effort is overwhelmingly on the White House's side.
Looking ahead, many in Congress are still weighing their options, looking for possible ways to derail the international diplomacy. To the extent that lawmakers care what the public thinks, American support for Obama's policy should influence the course of the debate.