Foreign policy is traditionally a strength of the Republican Party. Americans often prefer Republican positions on international issues particularly in situations that involve conflict. However, part of the core rationale for Barack Obama’s candidacy in 2008 was his opposition to the war in Iraq. Can history repeat itself and can Obama’s nuanced approach to foreign policy earn him another domestic win?
In just a few short days — June 30th plus or minus a few days depending on extensions — Iran and six world powers hit the deadline to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Beyond the Iran deal, 2015 has been an active year in American foreign policy with partisans from both parties weighting into the debate. In March, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, along with most Senate Republicans, sent a letter to Iran’s leaders, warning them Congress does not support President Obama’s negotiations. Despite this letter, President Obama announced that the parties in the Iran nuclear negotiations reached a framework for agreement. However, the specifics of the final deal are currently present at the negotiation table.
The negotiations, and the President’s direct involvement, have been a topic of great debate in the media. For something that remains obscure to so many, the American public has been inundated with information on it. As the deadline for the final deal looms, has the President’s public diplomacy altered how the American public evaluates Republicans and Democrats?
No, not really. Since the start of 2015, the American public still favors the approach of the Republican Party towards Iran. Obama and the Democrats saw a brief surge just after the framework was announced. However, a few weeks later, the Republican Party experienced their highest favorability of the year.
Both the President and supporting members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have taken heat on this deal and many Republicans and Democrats alike remain opposed to the current deal or a deal of any kind with Iran. If the current deal can yield an agreement in a few days between historically opposing parties, the deal may be heralded as a success for President Obama both abroad and at home in Washington. It remains to be seen how the American public will view this success, given the trends over the past year. If the current deal fails, the American public’s preference for a Republican approach may continue to rise, crowding out opportunities for the next generation of Democrats.