Washington, March 1 – Around three quarters of U.S. voters view Iran and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad negatively while 87 percent see the Islamic Republic’s illegal nuclear weapons program as a threat to the United States according to a new poll commissioned by The Israel Project released on Thursday.
Fifty-five percent go further, saying the nuclear program, which Iran is developing contrary to four United Nations resolutions, represents a “very big threat.” Voters also overwhelmingly see Iran itself as a threat to Israel (88 percent), the Iranian people (79 percent), the United States (79 percent), other Arab countries in the Middle East (78 percent), and Europe (76 percent).
“It is clear that Americans see Iran as a threat to the West. The overwhelming support for sanctions is a strong indication that voters believe the U.S. must take an active role in confronting this challenge,” said pollster Neil Newhouse, who oversaw the survey.
The United States and the European Union have imposed strong sanctions on Iran aimed at forcing it to abandon its race for a nuclear bomb, and 82 percent of voters support this action (55 percent “strongly” support). But only one-in-three (32 percent) believe sanctions and diplomacy will prevent Iran’s development of nuclear capabilities.
American voters have warm feelings for Israel (56 percent) and believe the U.S. should support Israel (57 percent). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres are viewed favorably by a better than two to one margin.
Both leaders will be in Washington this weekend for important meetings and speeches to the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Netanyahu will meet President Obama next Monday, the ninth anniversary of a major terrorist attack in Israel that killed 17 people. Most were school children returning home on a bus that was blown up.
Referring to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, 69 percent of voters believe it is about “ideology and religion,” rejecting the idea that “once agreements are reached on how to divide Jerusalem and establishing borders, the two sides can achieve a peace agreement.”
Voters continue to turn to mainstream media for their information on the Middle East. Better than half (60 percent) of voters note Television as a primary source, followed by the internet (35 percent), and newspapers (31 percent). And, three-quarters of those getting news online say it is from mainstream sources.
Voters said the best reasons for the U.S. to support Israel are the strong alliance between the two countries, and shared values such as freedom of speech, religion, press, and the right to vote.
The survey of 800 registered voters was conducted by live interviewers via telephone Feb. 26-28, 2012, by Public Opinion Strategies. The margin of error is +3.46%.