A Pew Research Center poll released today found the majority of Americans support using military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, backing up previous polls that have found similar results. But there’s also a fairly large partisan divide when it comes to supporting Israeli military action against Iran:
About half of Americans (51 percent) say the U.S. should stay neutral if Israel attacks Iran. Nearly four-in-ten (39 percent) say the U.S. should support Israel’s military action while just 5 percent say the U.S. should oppose military action. …
There is a wide divide among Republicans on the issue of Iran. Fully 71 percent of conservative Republicans think the U.S. should support Israel’s military action if they attack Iran, compared with 43 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans. A majority of independents and Democrats (including both liberal and more moderate Democrats) think the U.S. should stay neutral.
First, two items to note: the percentage of Americans who would want the U.S. to oppose an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program is in the single-digits, which leaves groups like J Street far outside the mainstream. Also note that Republicans are far more likely to want the U.S. to support an Israeli strike, while Democrats and independents are more likely to want to stay neutral.
Next, there’s bit of a discrepancy here. While the majority of Americans support using military action to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the majority would also prefer to stay neutral if Israel is the country taking the action. It almost seems contradictory.
One reason could be because there’s no option for neutrality on the first question. You either support taking military action to prevent Iranian nukes, or you don’t. In contrast, the Israel question provides three response choices: support, oppose, or stay neutral.
Overall, the poll confirms what we’ve been seeing lately, which is that the public supports all options on the table when it comes to preventing a nuclear Iran. And the partisan gap on the Israel question highlights once again that Republicans tend to be the more reliable party when it comes to support for the Jewish state and seriousness about national security.