New Chicago Council Survey Shows Americans Favor Deal with Iran, Willing to Back with Force

CHICAGO, July 6, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On the eve of the deadline for reaching a nuclear deal with Iran, new results from a May 25–June 17, 2015 Chicago Council Survey show that a majority of Americans support reaching an agreement with Iran. While the public prefers a diplomatic solution, majorities also appear willing to use force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.

  • Six in ten Americans (59 percent) favor the framework of an agreement with Iran.
  • Seven in ten (67 percent) support using U.S. troops to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
  • Nearly six in ten (56 percent) support U.S. airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities if Iran violates the deal.

Support for Diplomacy Backed by Force

  • If Iran "commits a major violation of this agreement," solid majorities would support the United States imposing tighter economic sanctions on Iran (80 percent) and continuing diplomatic efforts (71 percent).
  • At the same time, in principle, Americans seem willing to use force to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Before any mention of the current negotiations with Iran in the survey, two in three Americans say they would support "the use of U.S. troops to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons" (67 percent). If Iran violates the agreement, majorities would support the United States conducting cyber-attacks against Iran's computer systems (60 percent) and airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities (56 percent). Fewer support sending U.S. troops to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities (44 percent support, 51 percent oppose).

Majority of Americans Label Iran's Nuclear Program a Critical Threat

  • The public rates the possibility of unfriendly countries becoming nuclear powers (59 percent) and specifically Iran's nuclear program (57 percent) among the seven most critical threats facing the United States. In addition, nearly eight in ten Americans say that Iran plays a somewhat negative (44 percent) or very negative (33 percent) role in the Middle East today.

Questions about Lasting Impact of a Nuclear Deal

  • Only three in ten Americans are confident that the agreement will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the next ten years (29 percent; 69 percent are not). Even those who support the agreement with Iran tend to doubt its ability to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in ten years (42 percent of deal supporters versus 9 percent of those who oppose the deal).

Partisan Differences on Deal, but Shared Support for Action if Iran Violates

  • A solid majority of Democrats (74 percent) and a smaller majority of Independents (57 percent) favor the nuclear deal, while Republicans tend to oppose it (51 percent, 46 percent support). Likewise, Democrats (41 percent) are more confident than Republicans (16 percent) or Independents (26 percent) that the deal will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in the next decade.
  • While majorities across political parties support using U.S. troops to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, only among Republicans do a majority (53 percent) favor sending U.S. troops to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities if Iran commits a violation of the accord (53 percent versus 44 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of Independents).

About the Chicago Council Survey

The analysis in this report is based on data from the 2015 Chicago Council Survey of the American public on foreign policy. The 2015 Chicago Council Survey was conducted by GfK Custom Research using their large-scale, nationwide online research KnowledgePanel between May 25 and June 17, 2015 among a national sample of 2,034 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error ranges from ± 2.2 to ± 3.1 percentage points depending on the specific question, with higher margins of error for partisan subgroups.

The 2015 Chicago Council Survey is made possible by the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the United States-Japan Foundation and the personal support of Lester Crown and the Crown family.

About The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922, is an independent, non-partisan organization committed to educating the public — and influencing the public discourse — on global issues of the day. The Council provides a forum in Chicago for world leaders, policymakers and other experts to speak to its members and the public on these issues. Long known for its public opinion surveys of American views on foreign policy, The Chicago Council also brings together stakeholders to examine issues and offer policy insight into areas such as global agriculture, the global economy, global energy, global cities, global security and global immigration. Learn more at and follow @ChicagoCouncil for updates.