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Iran Nuclear Deal Passes Minimum Threshold of Democratic Support

That resolution is certain to pass thanks to the strong support for it among congressional Republicans. But it is just as certain to be vetoed by the president, whose foreign policy legacy is considered to be very much dependent upon the success of the Iran nuclear deal. Now that his allies comprise more than a third of the Senate, the resolution of disapproval is on track to be defeated, allowing for the removal of key US sanctions against Iran.

What’s more, 10 Senate Democrats still remain undecided on this issue, and if the president can sway seven of them to his side they can employ the rules of filibuster to prevent the resolution of disapproval from coming up for a vote. This would presumably be a further victory for the president, as his use of veto power can be expected to have political consequences, leaving some American voters with the impression that Congress was deprived of a fair chance to weigh in on the passage of the deal.

Most recent polls have recorded majority opposition to that deal among the American public. But Politicus USA reported on Tuesday that a new University of Maryland poll found the opposite: that about 55 percent of people overall want to see the deal approved. The researchers claim to have presented respondents with the arguments both for and against the deal as part of their methodology. Politicus also claims that more information led respondents to lean more toward support of the deal. But it is difficult to prove that the information presented in such a study does not reflect bias for one side or the other, thus leading respondents in a certain direction.

In any event, it can certainly be said that based on all polls on this issue, public opinion is strongly divided. And the Washington Post used the same University of Maryland poll on Tuesday to conclude that the issue is strongly – and increasingly – partisan.

The Post adds that this is the result of strengthened opinions mainly on one side of the issue. Over time, Democrats’ views have reportedly remained largely unchanged in spite of the importance attached to passage of the deal by President Obama. By contrast, constant lobbying against the deal by Republicans, pro-Israeli political groups and others has caused a significant shift toward opposition to the deal among Republican voters.

This difference appears to be reflected in Congress, as well. That is, Republicans are staunchly against the deal and were generally very quick to announce their intention to vote for a resolution of disapproval. Democratic support, on the other hand, was described by Iran News Update as a slow, steady trickle early this week. Furthermore, recent statements of support have been qualified by remarks acknowledging that the deal has some weaknesses. This is certainly true of the four Senators to come out in favor of the deal so far this week. Their statements referred to “significant shortcomings” or readily declared that the deal is “not perfect” but is nonetheless viewed as the best available option by the president and his supporters.

By some accounts, it is President Obama’s determination on this issue that is the largest determining factor leading to the current prospects for its success. This point was made on Tuesday in an article for Tablet which discussed the role of the “Iran lobby” in securing support for the deal.

The article indicates that the National Iranian-American Council has played much the same role in American politics as the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, its virtual antithesis. It goes on to say that AIPAC often has greater success – and certainly far greater success than it has had in drumming up opposition to the nuclear agreement – because it has a stable base of support among American politicians and the American public. NIAC lacks this, yet Tablet argues that its issue-specific alliance with the president gave it the upper hand in this instance.

But although AIPAC and other opponents of the deal appear to have fallen short of their initial goals, the fight is not at an end and they are expected to utilize the strong American opposition to Iran in order to take other measures to strengthen or counteract the nuclear agreement. On Tuesday, the Attorneys General of Oklahoma and Michigan wrote to the governors of all 50 states urging one such measure to counter President Obama’s dominance of the nuclear issue.

According to News OK, Scott Pruitt and Bill Schuette, both Republicans, urged states to implement their own sanctions against Iran, in order to compensate for some of the effects of removing them on the federal level, in line with the nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has acknowledged that state level sanctions can legally remain in place, though the Obama White House will urge states to remove those that have already been established. The continued legality of state level sanctions is a result of the Obama administration’s strategy for implementation of the deal, which framed it as an executive agreement and not as a treaty, which would have required full congressional approval but would also have made the agreement legally binding at all levels of American government.