Poll: Three out of four Americans don't know what the nuclear agreement with Iran is all about

Aug 17, 2015, 07:00 ET from iMediaEthics

NEW YORK, Aug. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A new poll from iMediaEthics finds that three of four Americans don't know, even in general terms, what the nuclear agreement with Iran is all about.

The poll also shows that as many as two-thirds of Americans have no opinion on whether Congress should vote to support or oppose the agreement.

These findings contradict other recent media polls by CBS News, ABC News/Washington Post, and Pew, which – after providing respondents selected information about the agreement – suggest that the vast majority of the public is informed and engaged in the issue.

This poll is part of iMediaEthics four-year-old PollCheck project to examine the validity of media poll results. Typically, this project employs a split sample approach, with one half the sample replicating the approach used by other polls, and the second half of the sample employing an approach which is designed to measure both opinion and non-opinion among the general public.

The goal is to provide a more realistic assessment of the public – the direction of opinion among those who feel strongly about an issue, as well as the percentage of the public that is unengaged.

The iMediaEthics poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, Aug. 6-9.

The iMediaEthics poll used a split sample experimental approach, with one half the sample not given any information about the agreement, and the other half informed that the nuclear deal was designed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and that international inspectors would monitor Iran's actions.

The "informed" half of the sample produced results similar to other polls, with nine in ten offering an opinion. "However, the problem with educating respondents," said David Moore, iMediaEthics polling director, "is that once the respondents are given information, they no longer represent the general public, which has not been given such information."

The half of the iMediaEthics sample that was not given information was asked if they knew what the purpose of the nuclear agreement was. Only 25 percent of the respondents correctly said it was intended to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Another 11 percent said it was to authorize Iran a limited number of nuclear weapons, 9 percent said it was to allow Iran to use U.S. technology to build nuclear power plants, and the rest (55 percent) were unsure.

The poll was sponsored by the Golkin Foundation and is published on iMediaEthics' website.

David W. Moore, is a Senior Fellow with the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is a former Vice President of the Gallup Organization and was a senior editor with the Gallup Poll for thirteen years. He is author of The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls (Beacon, 2008; trade paperback edition, 2009).

iMediaEthics is published by Art Science Research Laboratory, a not-for-profit co-founded by its director, Rhonda Roland Shearer, an artist, art historian and award winning journalist, and her late husband, Harvard professor and scientist Stephen Jay Gould. ASRL promotes the media's use of scientific methods and experts before publication.

SOURCE iMediaEthics