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Iran Deal Divides Public, Poll Finds

Roughly half of Americans believe Charles E. Schumer, as the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, can and should oppose the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration, compared to only 21 percent who believe the New York Democrat should hold his fire on the agreement.

A new Economist/YouGov poll reveals that 49 percent of Americans believe it is appropriate for a member of a party’s congressional leadership team to oppose a policy of a president from the same party.

The question, posed to nearly 2,000 Internet respondents, used Schumer’s opposition to the Iran agreement — the most high-profile political defection on the international deal — as its sole example. Thirty percent of those polled said they were unsure whether it was appropriate or not.

The high number of undecided respondents “is not unusual for a lot of foreign policy questions,” YouGov consultant Kathy Frankovic told CQ.

Schumer is not expected to heavily whip against the deal, saying in a statement that lawmakers must vote their conscience on the agreement. But 49 percent of respondents said it is nonetheless appropriate for him to work to defeat it, compared to 24 percent who believe it is inappropriate.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez came out, as expected, in opposition to the deal. But the president has otherwise managed to hold together a coalition of Democratic support for the deal, with 24 of the 46 Democratic caucus members publicly backing the agreement.

The latest Democrat to endorse the deal was Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, a notable fence sitter whose support will make it more difficult for Republicans to have the 60 votes they need to invoke cloture on any resolution to disapprove the deal.

Meanwhile, support on the Iran deal is split, with 37 percent of respondents saying they want senators to support the deal and 34 percent wanting the chamber to reject the agreement. But a healthy number — 29 percent — remain undecided on how the chamber should proceed when lawmakers return from August recess.

If Congress rejects the nuclear deal and Obama vetoes the bill, 40 percent of those polled said lawmakers should override the veto while 28 percent said lawmakers should not. But nearly a third of respondents said they were not sure how Congress should act.

The respondents did not necessarily view the agreement as a way to forestall war with Iran. Thirty-nine percent said war is very likely or somewhat likely in the next five years if the deal goes forward, compared to the 45 percent who believed we are or could be on a path to war if the deal is rejected.

The poll took place between Aug. 14 and 18 and has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Rachel Oswald contributed to this report.

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