HomeFinal 2017-07-23T02:40:55+00:00

Behaviors and Attitudes: Voter Preference in 2017 Presidential Election in Iran

IPPO Group’s poll conducted from June 1 to June 5, after the 2017 presidential election in Iran, shows that contrary to popular perception, the majority of those who voted for Hassan Rouhani did so based on positive support for this candidacy rather than negative-voting. However, the majority of those who voted for Ebrahim Raisi did so in order to vote against Rouhani.

IPPO’s recent poll also studies other aspects of voter behavior, preference and attitudes in the 2017 Iranian presidential election and the findings of this poll are presented in this report.   

The Commonalities: Rationales behind Voting for Rouhani and Raisi

While 38% of Rouhani voters say that they arrived at their decision because of Rouhani’s merits, his past experiences, political views, and choices, only 15% of Raisi voters say that they voted for their candidate of choice for the same reasons.

At the same time, while 17% of voters say that they voted for Raisi because they did not wish to vote for Rouhani, only 5% of Rouhani voters voted for him as a vote against Raisi.

Election promises attracted a greater percentage of voters who voted for Raisi (43%) when compared to those who voted for Rouhani (26%).

The Differences: Rationales behind Voting for Rouhani and Raisi – 1

About half (46%) of those who voted for Hassan Rouhani on 19 May 2017 election, say that they did so on account of their satisfaction with the president’s performance during his first term. One-fifth of them say that the reason they voted for Rouhani is because it is imperative that the president is given enough time and opportunity to finish his first term plans and promises, or they make the point of Rouhani’s familiarity with the requirements of the presidency after serving a four-year tenure. One-fifth of the respondents state that Rouhani’s success in signing the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA), the lifting of the Iranian nuclear sanctions and preventing of war were reasons for their vote. Only 7% of the respondents used the rational known as “a choice between bad and worse” in their line of reasoning when explaining their vote for Rouhani.

The Differences: Rationales behind Voting for Rouhani and Raisi – 2

Among those who voted for Raisi, the majority (27%) mention Rouhani’s failure or inability to deliver on his first-term promises as one of the reasons for their vote against his re-election.  One-fifths of the respondents (22%) allude to Raisi’s promise of eradicating poverty as well as the fight against economic inequality as the basis their support for Raisi. Another one-fifth of the respondents bring up Raisi’s promise of fighting immorality and licentiousness as well as control of women who do not wear the proper Islamic dress code (hijab). About 12% of the respondents say that they voted Raisi for the promise of change, and 10% say they voted for Raisi to act in accordance with the commands of the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei.

Voter’s Decision Time: How Soon did People Choose their Candidate?

The time the voters took and the time period in which they decided to vote for a certain candidate are significant factors especially for analysts, media organizations as well as social and political actors and activists who want to assess the impacts of election campaigns on changing voter behaviour and preferences.

As such in the recent IPPO poll respondents were asked about the time interval in which they made up their mind to vote for their preferred candidate or the time they decided not to participate in the election. Nearly half of the respondents (47%) say they had made such a decision long before the beginning of the campaigning period or before the onset of the presidential debates. About a third (31%) say they came to decide after the presidential debates. Less than a tenth of the respondents (7%) say that they made their unbending decision on the actual Election Day.

The Influence of Reference Groups

Can one say that some voters are adherents of certain groups of people and decide their preferred candidate accordingly? In the context of Iranian presidential election are there any noticeable reference groups that are influencing voter opinions, turnout and the outcome of the election?

IPPO asked respondents about groups or individual that they count on or trust whose words might have influenced their decision to vote for a certain candidate or not to participate in the election. More than half of respondents (56%) affirm that they voted based on their own assessments and preferences and that their decision was not influenced by any groups.  20% of the respondents say close and distant family members had some influence on their voting preference and 7% state that candidates’ promises, reasonings, debates, and discussions were effective in shaping their final decision.  4% of the respondents point to networks of friends and colleagues and 2% assert that educated individuals, experts, and analysts have influenced them. 2% of the respondents mention media outlets as sources of information that had made an impact.

Voter’s Understanding of Candidates’ Political Orientations

Do voters comprehend candidates’ political orientations as belonging to the same political dispositions and groupings that analysts and the media categorize politicians into? In the context of Iran for example, do voters allocate the candidates into the known “reformist” vs. “hardliner/conservative” groupings? If they do so, what is the extent of this political categorization?

IPPO asked respondents “do you know if the candidate you voted for is a reformist, a hardliner/conservative or moderate?

58% of respondents who voted for Hassan Rouhani and 48% of respondents who voted for Ebrahim Raisi generally categorize these politicians into one of the typically known groupings. However, about 6% of respondents say that they think of Rouhani as a hardliner/conservative and 15% said that they consider Raisi a reformist. Overall, about half of those who voted for Rouhani and about one-third of those who voted for Raisi categorized the two into the conventional political groupings these politicians are known to belong to.

Voter’s Following of Election News

To what extent did the voters follow election news? 39% of respondents say they have followed media coverage of the election or content related to election very much or to a great extent. 33% say they did not follow media coverage of the election and if they did, they did so to a limited extent. 28% say that they followed election news and content to some extent.

Media Consumption Habits

What media outlets did the respondents prefer to follow the election news and analysis? This question was only targeted to those respondents that did state they followed the elections news (to a less or great extent).

74% of the respondents say that their main source of election news and content was the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) better known as the national radio-television broadcasts. New media are also popular with 60% of the respondents naming various platforms of online or satellite devices including telegrams, Instagram, social media sites, internet based media and satellite TVs as their main source of election news and analysis. Meanwhile, 12% say that relied on oral communication (talking to various people), and about 7% say that they read only print media including the press and campaign advertisements.

* For this particular poll question, each respondent was allowed to mention several media sources or outlets; as such, the total percentage of all responses adds up to more than 100.

Revisiting Voter Preferences Post-Election

Now that the presidential election is over and voter turnout, as well as each candidate’s votes, is announced, is it transparent who the voters voted for? If one asks this question from the voters, will the results be different from the official figures?

62% of the people who voted on 19 May 2017 name Hasan Rouhani as their candidate of choice (the official reported figure for Rouhani’s votes is 59%). In contrast, only 15% of the respondents say that they have voted for Ebrahim Raisi (the official reported figure for Raisi is 39%). Interestingly, about 20% of respondents refuse to tell who they voted for.

Survey Methodology

  • This polling was carried out at a national level in Iran from Jun1 2017 to Jun 5,  2017.
  • The interviews were conducted via phone. Interviewers were trained – both for general skills of phone polling and for the specific needs of this survey. The interviewers were selected post training after passing an interviewing skills exam.
  • The sample size was 1356 Iranians, 18 years and older, who were residing in Iran and were selected randomly.
  • Sampling methodology is a two-stage proportional sampling. It’s on the basis of each of the service operators’ market share and then simple random sampling.    
  • Assuming maximum variation, the results of this survey can generalize to the whole of the 18 years and older Iranian (resident in Iran) with a margin of error of ±2.66 for the 95% confidence interval that can differ based on responses to questions.
  • The data were weighted based on the last available National Iranian Census (2011) with gender, age group and place of residence (urban/rural) as weighting variables.
  • Farsi native speaking interviewers conducted the interviews during daylight hours, local time.
  • The results of each interview was assessed twice by the interviewer and the supervising team – in terms of respondent’s trust in the interviewer and the interviewer’s assessment of the respondents’ honesty.
  • Those respondents who had received very low scores for trust and honesty have been removed from the random sample.


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