(CN) – President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Iran denuclearization agreement, but most Americans have only a hazy understanding of what the deal entails and many are skeptical of the president’s handling of the issue, according to a Pew Research Center study.
Brokered by the Obama administration three years ago, the agreement rolled back sanctions on Iran in exchange for the country halting its pursuit of nuclear weapons and allowing international checks on its facilities.
In a report released Tuesday based on a survey of 1,500 American adults between April 25 and May 1, Pew researchers found that 32 percent of respondents approve of the deal and 40 percent disapprove. Twenty-eight percent had no opinion.
However, Americans view the deal more favorably today than they did in September 2015, after conservative voices were highly critical of the arrangement, including Fox News’ Sean Hannity, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and Trump himself.
While Americans overall have better opinions about the agreement than they did three years ago, 53 percent of Republicans still oppose the deal, while 22 percent approve, according to Pew. More Democrats favor the agreement, but only with tepid support at 43 percent.
While the Pew data indicates lukewarm feelings about the deal in either direction, 72 percent of Americans said they have little to no information on the nuclear agreement itself.
Nearly half of respondents in all demographics – including age, sex, political leanings and education – indicated that they have heard only “a little” about the deal. Twenty-six percent said they were completely unfamiliar with it.
Respondents with post-graduate education were the most informed, with 90 percent saying they had heard a little to a lot of information about the deal. Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were the least informed – only 17 percent said they had heard a lot about the agreement.
Based on the survey, President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal is unlikely to stun average Americans, including Democratic voters. However, withdrawing from the agreement could hinder relations with both European leaders and Democratic legislators in Congress, who view the nuclear agreement positively.
Additionally, newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faces a complicated balancing act in trying to retain the support of U.S. allies while also restraining a possible escalation in Middle Eastern regional tensions, which the agreement was originally intended to accomplish.
Future support for Trump’s decision to withdraw could hinge on Americans’ trust in his ability to navigate the issue. A slim majority of respondents in the Pew survey, 52 percent, said they were not confident in the president’s handling of the situation.
Divided between Democrats and Republicans, the contrast is starker – 83 percent of Republican respondents were very or somewhat confident in Trump regarding Iran, whereas only 10 percent of Democrats said the same.
Eighty-three percent of Democratic respondents said they were not very or not at all confident regarding the president’s handling of the situation.
However, those who disapproved of the deal were more likely to trust the president to handle the issue, with 52 percent indicating confidence. Reciprocally, 65 percent of respondents who approved of the deal said they were not confident in Trump’s handling of Iran.