NEW YORK – The latest FOX News poll finds that Americans think Iran cannot be trusted, and a majority thinks Iran either already poses a threat to the United States or that it will soon.
The poll finds that an overwhelming 85 percent of Americans say they do not trust Iran to tell the truth about their nuclear technology program, including large majorities of Republicans (91 percent), independents (90 percent) and Democrats (78 percent).
In addition, a majority of voters thinks Iran is a threat to the United States. A quarter of the public — 24 percent — sees Iran as a “clear and present danger,” and another 33 percent think it will be a threat in the near future. Almost a third think Iran will be a threat sometime down the road (30 percent) and one in 10 think the country, which is known as part of the “axis of evil,” is not a threat to the United States at all. These results are in line with polling conducted at the beginning of the year.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on May 2 and May 3, before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush.
By a three-to-one margin Americans say they do not believe the United Nations can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. About one in five (22 percent) think the U.N. can stop Iran, but a 74 percent majority disagrees.
Democrats (31 percent) are nearly twice as likely as Republicans (17 percent) and independents (15 percent) to think the U.N. can stop Iran.
Moreover, given Iran’s defiant rhetoric, including its president’s claim that his nation “won’t give a damn about such useless resolutions,” half of Americans say at a minimum the U.N. should impose economic sanctions right away (51 percent), while 39 percent say despite the rhetoric the U.N. should still try diplomacy.
This week the United States is working to get a resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council that could ultimately lead to sanctions on Iran.
Respondents were asked about a couple of hypothetical situations regarding Iran and nuclear weapons. First, the poll asked about taking military action if there is “any chance” of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons before President Bush leaves office. Americans are divided on this issue: 48 percent support President Bush taking military action if there is a chance Iran could get nukes, and 44 percent oppose.
What if Iran did obtain nuclear weapons and President Bush had not used military force to stop it — would he be blamed for not using force? Just over a third say the president would have “failed in his duty” to protect the United States by not using force (35 percent), while a 44 percent plurality says they think he would have done the right thing by not using force, even though Iran got nukes.
“It is clear that while Americans are worried about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, at least half of them have reservations about the use of force,” comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. “The war dragging on in Iraq has clearly made people wary of engaging in another war at this time — particularly against a larger, stronger and more committed adversary. Many people simply see no good choices. They feel the U.N. and sanctions can’t do the job, but they don’t want another fight.”
The Situation in Iraq
The public’s views are mixed on whether a stable government will eventually be established in Iraq.
Nearly half of Americans (49 percent) say they are optimistic that the Iraqi people will ultimately be able to create a stable government, and almost as many are pessimistic (46 percent).
The public is skeptical about progress being made in Iraq. More than four in 10 think “real progress” has been made in Iraq over the past year (43 percent), but a 52 percent majority disagrees.
There are clear, predictable partisan differences on these Iraq questions. Republicans (67 percent) are significantly more likely than Democrats (38 percent) to say they are optimistic about a stable government in Iraq, and Republicans (62 percent) are more than twice as likely to think real progress has been made (28 percent Democrat).