Results Released from Rare Iran Pre-Election Poll

(Credit: Siavush’s photostream)

Ahmadinejad Front Runner in Upcoming Presidential Elections
Iranians Continue to Back Compromise and Better Relations with US and West.
Results of a New Nationwide Public Opinion Survey of Iran before the June 12, 2009 Presidential Elections

The Obama administration has sent signals that it is ready to devise a new policy of strategic engagement with Iran, but has not made any big, overt moves to engage the leadership in Tehran thus far.
Whether a new relationship is possible will depend to some degree on the outcome of this Friday’s presidential election.
To discuss the election and its possible implications for U.S. policy, the New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow are hosting a public forum TODAY from 12:15pm1:45pm at the New America Foundation to release the results of a new nationwide public opinion survey of Iran.
Participants in today’s forum – which will STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note – include Terror Free Tomorrow President Kenneth Ballen, New America Foundation/Iran Project Director Flynt Leverett, and Harvard University graduate student and Iran expert Azadeh Pourzand. Steve Clemons will moderate the discussion.
Steve Clemons will post the poll results above at 12:15 pm EST sharp — as we have an embargo agreement with CNN, the Associated Press, and the Atlantic Monthly.
— Ben Katcher


24 comments on “Results Released from Rare Iran Pre-Election Poll

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Ahmadinejad is as close to Satan as any leader of our time”
    Really? He musta cut in front of Dick Cheney. But don’t worry, I’m sure ‘ol Dick will manage to get his place back. Perhaps he can get Gonzales to file suit.


  2. Teddy says:

    Ahmadinejad is as close to Satan as any leader of our time- even more so than Saddam. His language is so reckless he could perpetuate a nuclear strike or carpet bombing by Israel- Iranians better hope and pray for their lives that he does not win again.


  3. Steve Clemons says:

    Don — during the event, I asked the same thing of Ken Ballen — and he said that 15% didn’t respond — but there still seems to be either a math error or unaccounted for parts of the electorate. I wish they had filled this in on the study. Best, steve


  4. Don Bacon says:

    I got distracted by other matters. Belatedly looking at this Iranian poll, and using my neglected math skills, I have determined that there may be a problem. There are four candidates who have polled a total of 51% of the polled electorate, with 27% undecided, leaving a remainder of 22% of the polled electorate unaccounted for by my reckoning. Did I overlook something? Help!


  5. Vladimir Val Cymbal says:

    This survey just does not make sense to critical thinkers. It gives the impression that the same people that want more democracy, better relations with the west, and direct elections of the supreme leader also favoring Ahmadinejad. These two “statistics” are diametrically apposed.


  6. Don Bacon says:

    Most Americans are conservative? Sure, they love working fifty weeks a year, forty-eight hours a week, with either poor or no health care, victimized by employers who will fire them if they try to organize, and terminate their health and pension benefits, while the rich rule their impoverished lives and benefit from low taxes and financing from the public till, even as said “conservative” Americans have accumulated $38,000 debt for every man, woman and child mostly due to corporate welfare military spending and war.


  7. silver slipper says:

    1st – How does anyone expect any other result than Ahmadinejad “winning” the Iranian election?
    2nd – President Obama is trying to cause America to be more “progressive”/liberal, and in many ways he is succeeding – taking over the car industry, telling bankers what trips they can make and whether or not they should pay bonuses, forcing states to adopt new laws when they take the stimulus money, imposing cap and trade and cafe standards to limit American’s options for energy. He uses conservative sounding lingo to make what he is doing seem more main stream. And if he is able to achieve universal health care, we will go much quicker to the progressive life style. The thing I believe holds America back from the progressive ideology is that most Americans are conservative, and they voice their opposition to their representatives, who at least at times, will follow the voice of their citizenry rather than the party line. The more we as Americans become dependent upon our government, the less likely that we will protest certain policies.
    3. I disagree that the 4 judges dissenting in the case Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal, et al. (08-22) are being activist. They are rather showing strict adherence to the law. They said there are only two ways a judge is required to recuse him/her self, and that those conditions were not met. I hope I can explain one reason why not. The A.T. Massey Coal com. gave lots of money to the judge’s campaign, and he barely won. Campaigns are unpredictable. And so are judges. Example: many people gave lots of money to President Obama’s campaign, but they have no certainty that what they want to be achieved in government will happen. Many wanted President Obama to be able to get certain types of judges on the SC. Now let’s consider Judge Sotomayor. She is on the surface very liberal, but on the issue of abortion and corporations… perhaps not. Therefore the persons who have invested in Obama to get certain judges appointed may be disappointed if she rules conservatively regarding the right to choose. With all this, I’m trying to say, that giving money to a campaign is not a sure way to reach a desired result.


  8. Kathleen G says:

    Check out what George Galloway is up to.. Another Convoy to Gaza


  9. Don Bacon says:

    “It may even be argued that the EU is finally finding an identity ”
    Just the opposite is true. The reason for the low EU election turnout, with even some compulsory voting, is that European voters see the EU as distant and irrelevant to their national governments.
    one comment:
    “I have written at some length on this blog about how the EU has become an important form, held in common by all European national administrations, for the conduct of politics in a public free zone.
    “The more politicians cut themselves off from the public – I chart the institutions and process in some detail here – the less able they are to lead, motivate or inspire publics across Europe.”– Bruno Waterfield, Telegraph


  10. IdeasButNotIdeology says:

    Without the intention of debasing the fact quality of the comments thus far, I’m not sure how the debate over “left-right” in the U.S. is not anything other than worthless.
    Obama is redefining the lines of “left and right” through pragmatism, a philosophy of practicality and not ideology. So while policy-specific talk maintains its value, talk on ideological lines is now irrelevant punditry.
    And comparing the U.S. to Europe assumes that the national interests, domestic interests, and America and European peoples are similar. I don’t think so, and I’m not sure how valuable such an argument would be.
    Additionally, comparing the U.S. to Europe ignores the particularities associated with the relative decline of a global hegemon versus the relative ascendance (or decline) of a set of states (european states) dealing with an organization (the european union) that itself presents an unprecedented context, in all senses, in what perhaps may now be more aptly called Western Asia.
    It may even be argued that the EU is finally finding an identity while the Obama administration is forcing a fracturing of the American one, a new world (or its repeat) in which Europe is cohesive and nationalist and America is meaningless as an independent idea and becoming more cosmopolitan through the very nature of its new meaningless identity.
    But my analysis by its very nature is too vague and disputable. And that’s my point.
    So I’ll stop.


  11. erichwwk says:

    Regrettably I concur with your take on Obama, Don. It seems to me foreign policy has been stirred up to absorb personnel and energy, to distract from the continuation of policy and legislation to claim domestic resources and policy to benefit the top 0.004% of Americans Leo Hindery talked about in his recent NAF speech at the New School.
    While there was a small victory at SCOTUS re. the ability of corporations to buy judges [ Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal, et al. (08-22)], the fact that it was 5-4 (and the minority opinions themselves) shows how close the U.S. is to having legislation being totally usurped by the four activist judges masquerading as non-activist.
    But everywhere one looks, whether its single payer or even a public insurance option in health care, the dismantlement of the energy bill
    [ ],
    the ability to hold large corporations and elite individuals accountable is minuscule. Our political process and social contract is simply not up to the challenge. I hope Steve returns to the domestic agenda sometime soon.
    Don Bacon writes:
    “The United States is still far, far to the right of other western countries and there is no evidence that this situation will change. Any observations that there has been a change are totally unfounded.”


  12. Don Bacon says:

    The recent European Parliament elections, with a record low turnout, had nothing to do with national governments. Nothing. So any claim about “progressive government” or “new Europe” relating to this election is unfounded.
    Regarding Obama, he never claimed to be progressive and he isn’t. His record after four months in office is decidedly conservative, which has delighted neocons and saddened Progressives. The United States is still far, far to the right of other western countries and there is no evidence that this situation will change. Any observations that there has been a change are totally unfounded.


  13. WigWag says:

    Paul Norheim says,
    “Sure WigWag, Obama is more “progressive” than Palin, more of a leftist than Limbaugh, and certainly more than the Polish government or the extreme right in Austria or Holland. So what?”
    I didn’t compare Obama to Palin and Limbaugh, I compared him with the leaders of the major European powers; Berlusconi, Merkel, Sarkozy and soon Cameron.
    It seems to me that Obama is more progressive than any of these world leaders. My guess is that even most citizens of the nations these leaders run would agree with that.
    Don Bacon says,
    “I suppose that if you discount such things as imperialism (economic and military), health care, labor laws, election laws, prison policy and gun laws then the US would have the most progressive government in the western world.”
    There’s no question that for the past 50 years, European politics have been more progressive than American politics; that’s why the Europeans have a more robust social safety net.
    The point is that all of that appears to be changing. While Americans are drifting to the left, Europe is racing to the right.
    There are few European nations that still have vibrant, competitive parties of the left. The European left is collapsing everywhere you look and I don’t think it’s unrealistic to compare the problem of European leftists to the problems of American Republicans.
    Even in nations like Spain that still have governments controlled by the left, the right wing parties were victorious in the quest for seats in the European Parliament.
    And all the talk in the world about American imperialism and militarism doesn’t change the fact that the parties who gained the most in yesterday’s election were the racist parties of the far right.
    Welcome to the new Europe.


  14. Paul Norheim says:

    Sure WigWag, Obama is more “progressive” than Palin, more of
    a leftist than Limbaugh, and certainly more than the Polish
    government or the extreme right in Austria or Holland. So what?
    By the way, the Norwegian party Høyre (meaning “Right” – as
    opposed to “Left”) is more to the left than Obama`s party. Does
    this mean that Høyre is a progressive party? Nope.
    Perhaps the political landscape will be more polarized in large
    parts of the world when we have fully absorbed the impact and
    implications of the financial crisis – who knows? perhaps we`ll
    even see a much more radicalized left. But this is merely
    speculations from my side.
    The first sentence of Don Bacon`s last comment sums it up
    nicely for me.


  15. Don Bacon says:

    I suppose that if you discount such things as imperialism (economic and military), health care, labor laws, election laws, prison policy and gun laws then the US would have the most progressive government in the western world.
    The four-month-old Obama administration is hardly progressive when one considers its priorities of more war, more international threats, continuation of harsh Bush detainee policies and more financial welfare for banks, investment houses and corporations, and virtually nothing for the working class. Drifting or not, liberal in Europe still means conservative in the United States.
    The United Nations Human Development Index ranks Iceland, Norway, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Luxembourg, Switzerland, France, Finland, Denmark and Austria ahead of the United States.


  16. Dan Kervick says:

    This poll is likely already significantly off the mark. It was conducted between May 11th and May 20th, prior to the recent televised debates and flurry of controversy, excitement and activity. Still it looks like the presidential race is headed for a runoff.
    From the news reports, Tehran sounds like a very interesting place to be these days.


  17. WigWag says:

    JohnH, Jimmy Carter monitored the election and said it was basically fair (except for the massive vote buying that all sides participated in). Carter was quoted as saying that while the elections were clean, he was afraid that not all sides would accept the results; so far it appears that Carter was incorrect in his apprehension.
    You are right that the Shia probably make up a larger segment of the Lebanese population than the number of seats apportioned to them; but many nations have electoral systems that contradict one person-one vote. In the United States we have the Electoral College (the relevance of which was proven by Bush v. Gore); in Iran they have the Guardian Council in Switzerland they have a rotating presidency.
    There hasn’t been a census in Lebanon in more than 50 year so it’s hard to know precisely how many Shia there are. But there is one thing we do know; the Sunni and the Druze voted overwhelmingly for political parties opposed to Hezbollah. The Lebanese of Islamic extraction who are not Shia seem to have little to no sympathy for the party of Hasan Nasrallah. They myth of his popularity has been laid to rest.
    And the Christian Lebanese surprised everyone by voting overwhelmingly against General Aoun; his defeat was humiliating. He would have been better off if he had stayed in France.
    Of course the sectarian voting patterns in Lebanon should surprise no one. They recapitulate voting patterns in Iraq and they are paradigmatic of what’s happening all over the Arab world.
    I can’t help but wonder whether Flynt Leverett is wrong when he said on today’s panel that it doesn’t matter who wins the Iranian election.
    Leverett’s point was that Iranian nuclear aspirations (to the extent they exist at all) are based on security concerns that won’t change regardless of who is elected. He suggested that Iran is militarily weak (in a conventional sense) and that it is surrounded by hostile neighbors. Leverett said that Iran’s support for proxy terrorist groups (to be fair, Leverett didn’t use the term terrorist) and Iran’s nuclear interests are rooted in their untenable security situation. One interesting result of the poll was the finding that a majority of Iranian citizens actually believe that their government’s nuclear program is really a nuclear weapons program in disguise.
    It seems to me that the political weakness of an Iranian proxy (Hezbollah) coupled with the victory of a less recalcitrant Iranian President might make a dialog between the Obama Administration and the Iranians more fruitful, despite what Leverett says.
    Time will tell.
    Paul Norheim, you say,
    “But from where I sit, America at the moment certainly does not look like a “progressive” nation.”
    Perhaps not in any absolute sense, but how would you compare Obama’s politics to Cameron’s, Sarkozy’s, Berlusconi’s and Merkel’s? At the moment, is the United States a more or less progressive nation than Austria, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the Baltic States?
    Isn’t it true that in the United States, the Democrats are in the ascendancy while the Republicans have been reduced to near irrelevancy? Throughout most of Europe, isn’t it the parties of the left that resemble the U.S. Republican Party while political parties of the right get stronger and political parties of the far right grow the fastest?
    In the United States, American voters rejected the party that hates Mexicans and wants them deported. In Europe, the parties that dislike Muslims and want them deported are growing in strength with every election cycle.
    It seems to me that over time, the increasingly revanchist direction Europe is taking has to have implications for its relations with the Islamic World.


  18. Cookies_and_milk says:

    Dammit I wasn’t paying attention during the last part and missed something… can anybody here tell me what was Ballen’s response to the woman who seemed to be somehow attacking his poll, she said something about many Iranians being below poverty line and why would they support hezbollah, as in this conservative government I guess… I’m not sure he replied though, again I wasn’t paying attention. >_>;
    Can’t wait for the election results, I hope Mousavi wins. 😀


  19. Paul Norheim says:

    You have some very good points here, WigWag, especially
    regarding the tendencies in Europe. I have not followed the EU
    Parliament elections closely (will study the results later). “…the
    left in Europe was repudiated in nation after nation. The fact
    that this occurred during a period of unprecedented economic
    turmoil is unprecedented.” To bad if significant parts of Europe
    respond to the economic crisis by voting for right wing populist
    parties – but perhaps not very surprising.
    In America the situation seems more complex to me with
    regards to the left/right axis. The political center has moved
    considerably to the right during the Bush years. Obama seems
    to feel comfortable in that center, listening more to conservative
    than progressive voices.
    It´s been difficult so far to distinguish between A) real
    attempts to change course, B) a continuation and variation of
    the Cheney/Bush policies, and C) crisis & mayhem management.
    I guess it will still take some time before we`re able to make
    those distinctions. But from where I sit, America at the moment
    certainly does not look like a “progressive” nation.


  20. David Billington says:

    The shifts on the other side of the Atlantic are significant but I don’t think they should be seen in terms of a common phenomenon. In Lebanon, the vote followed sectarian divisions in a country where such divisions define the landscape. Parties in the European Parliament mostly appeal to voters on secular issues and of course none possess armed militias.
    The recent shift to the right in Europe will still leave all of its democracies with societies more to the left (in terms of taxation and social welfare provisions) than America. I hope our new President can deliver substantial reform but it will not be easy to achieve.
    The problem for Europe is that it will someday have to resolve the anomalies in the European Union created by relying on the United States for security and by having institutions with regional authority that are not fully accountable to a regional electorate. Skepticism of the EU tends to reflect populism of both the left and right, not one vs. the other.


  21. JohnH says:

    As far as I can tell, the only thing that the Lebanese election proves is that the gerrymandering scheme set up in 1943 is still effective.
    “When the French conquered Syria in 1920, they decided to make it easier to rule by dividing it. They carved off what is now Lebanon and gerrymandered it so that it had a Christian majority. In 1920, Maronite Catholics were probably 40 percent of the population, and with Greek Orthodox and others the Christian population came to 51 percent. The Shiites were probably only about 18 percent of the population then. Both under the French Mandate (1920-1946) and in the early years of the Lebanese Republic, the Maronites were the dominant political force. When Lebanon became independent in 1943, the system was set up so that Christians always had a 6 to 5 majority in parliament.”
    Now the Shia have about 40% of the population and are severely under-represented in the government.
    Interesting that no one in US officialdumb is pointing out the totally undemocratic, skewed nature of the election. That would happen only if officialdumb didn’t like the results!


  22. WigWag says:

    In response to Don Bacon,
    Well, I suppose that there are some nations with more progressive governments like Norway. But if you compare the Obama Administration with the governments in power in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and soon Great Britain (not to mention the Baltic Republics), the United States has a government to the left of any of these nations.
    That doesn’t mean that every American policy is more progressive (e.g. health care) but if you compare the Obama response to the financial crisis with the tepid responses of these supposedly more progressive nations, they all look more to the right than the United States.
    The other salient point is that while the United States drifts to the left, Europe is drifting to the right. Even nations where progressive governments are in power like Spain and Finland saw the center right parties victorious in elections for the European Parliament.
    It’s beginning to look like the left in Europe is either dead or dying. Center left/socialist parties in major European nations look as moribund as the Republican Party in the United States. Like the Republicans in America, the Left in Europe can be noisy, but they can’t convince most Europeans that they are anything but crazy.
    While Europe’s drift to the right has domestic implications, especially for the fate of the European Union, it almost certainly has foreign policy implications as well. Just when Americans were repudiating the policies of George W. Bush, the Europeans seem to be slowly moving in the direction of acquiescing to some of those policies.
    It seems to me that this must have implications for the relationship of the West to Iran. It obviously has implications for the West’s relations with the Muslim World. The center-right parties in Europe are moving in the direction of the far-right European parties that are growing the fastest; they are becoming more and more anti-Muslim immigrant.
    By the way, it’s not just the Europeans moving to the right; the Israelis are behaving just like Europeans and have elected a conservative government and the conservatives control Canada as well.
    The United States and Australia seem to be the anomalies in all of this.


  23. Don Bacon says:

    Nobody who knows the facts ever thought that the United States would have the most progressive government in the western world.


  24. WigWag says:

    Perhaps during the discussion some of the panelists could allude to the results of the elections in Lebanon and for the European Parliament and share their thoughts on what, if anything, the results mean for Iran.
    The coalition led by Hezbollah was defeated after months of leading in the polls. Most experts who picked the election, picked incorrectly. It seems that Hezbollah has no support amongst the Sunni and Druze in Lebanon and putative support for Hezbollah amongst the Maronite Christian community was a mirage. The poor showing of the Hezbollah-led coalition (20 fewer seats in Parliament than the Hariri led group) is almost certainly a reflection of how unpopular Syria and Iran are in Lebanon.
    As for the elections to the European Parliament, the left in Europe was repudiated in nation after nation. The fact that this occurred during a period of unprecedented economic turmoil is unprecedented. Center right parties who prefer a more muscular policy towards Iran were victorious almost everywhere in Europe. The parties that saw their share of the vote increase the most were the far right parties who are implacably hostile to Muslim immigrants in the EU.
    Who would have thought that the United States would ever have the most progressive government in the western world?
    The meaning of all of this for relations with Iran and the rest of the Middle East (and South Asia and Northern Africa) will be interesting to watch.


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