With the Donald J. Trump administration just a couple of weeks away from taking over the nation’s foreign policy, a new survey from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC) finds that nearly two thirds of Americans oppose withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and seeking to negotiate a better deal, as has been proposed by the president-elect.

“Though President-elect Trump campaigned on ripping up the deal and seeking to negotiate a better one, the majority of Americans would rather continue with the deal as long as Iran continues to comply with its terms.” said PPC Director Steven Kull.

Respondents were first presented the main terms of the deal that was negotiated between the UN Security Council (plus Germany) and Iran over its nuclear enrichment program and asked to evaluate arguments for and against withdrawing and seeking to renegotiate. Both arguments were found convincing by majorities. Six in ten expressed optimism that other UN members could be persuaded to join in the effort to renegotiate.

However, 69 percent said it was unlikely that Iran would agree to renegotiate the deal and make more concessions. This was a bipartisan perspective that included 64 percent of Republicans as well as 75 percent of Democrats.

When asked for their final recommendation, 64 percent recommended continuing with the deal as long as Iran continues to comply with the terms, while 34 percent opted for withdrawing and seeking to negotiate a better deal.

While an overwhelming 86 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents favored continuing with the deal, only 40 percent of Republicans concurred. Fifty eight percent of Republicans favored withdrawing and seeking to renegotiate.

Interestingly, support for renegotiating was high among Republicans, though even among those who favored renegotiation, 57 percent said it was unlikely that the negotiations would succeed.

The survey was fielded December 22-28, 2016 with a sample of 2,980 adult respondents drawn from Nielsen-Scarborough’s probability-based national panel (which was recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households). The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percent.

The questionnaire can be found at: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/US_Role_in_World_Quaire-IRAN.pdf

The policymaking simulation on Iran’s nuclear program is live on Voice Of the People’s website. Users can get the facts, evaluate the arguments and send their recommendations to their representatives in Congress. The online tool allows anyone a chance to weigh in on what the United States should do regarding Iran’s future use of nuclear technology.

For the study, which was released on July 15, a representative sample of Americans went through the process that puts the respondent in the shoes of a policymaker. Working online, they were briefed on the current issues of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, and presented options for negotiations or furthering sanctions. They were allowed to make their own detailed proposal on the course the United States should pursue.

“The policymaking simulations are the foundation of our Citizen Cabinet initiative – a bold, new platform for informed citizen engagement,” said VOP Executive Director Richard Parsons. “They are an extremely effective tool for determining exactly what people want their government to do on even the most complex issues, once they have the basic facts.”

To try the simulation, click here.

As Congress continues to wrestle with contentious fiscal and policy issues, U.S. leaders can take a lesson from the surprising results of a new study released by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), affiliated with the University of Maryland. Working with Israelis and Palestinians, and using ‘policymaking simulations’ similar to those proposed by Voice Of the People, PPC found majorities of Israelis and Palestinians can reach broad agreement on key elements of a comprehensive peace deal.

Voice Of the People (VOP) is seeking to apply similar online “public consultation” methods to help Congress deal with some of the tough issues facing US policymakers, by creating “Citizen Cabinets” in various states and, ultimately, the country as a whole. These will be representative samples of citizens who are briefed on an issue, evaluate opposing arguments, and then weigh in on key issues Congress is facing, all through an interactive, fully transparent online process.

Studies show the American people are far less polarized than Congress, so bringing their voice to the table in this way can help break the gridlock in Washington.

If these new methods can help Israelis and Palestinians find common ground, perhaps we can apply them here, to bring Democrats and Republicans together and give the common sense of the people a greater voice.

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