Iranians are walking under a giant electoral banner featuring portraits of Iran's early Presidential elections candidates that is hanging on a governmental building in downtown Tehran, Iran, on June 17, 2024.

Despite Some Polls, Forecasts for Iranian Elections Remain Murky

Wednesday, 06/19/2024

Several Iranian government and private organizations as well as the campaigns of some presidential candidates in Iran are known to be conducting surveys and opinion polls before the June 28 election.

The polls aim not only to gauge the electability of individual candidates but also to provide meaningful forecasts of voter turnout, which can significantly impact the chances of various candidates.

However, some pollsters and political commentators report that certain officials have instructed them to withhold their information, fearing that discrepancies between their predictions and the actual results could lead to social disturbances. Following the post-election unrest in 2009, the Iranian government appears to be wary of the possibility of post-election upheavals.

On the other hand, managers of government-owned polling agencies refrain from publicizing their data, fearing that their activity could annoy future government officials after the election. It is customary in Iran for new presidents, cabinet ministers, and other officials to replace many officeholders with trusted individuals. Polling agency managers do not want to be among those dismissed on the first day of the new administration.

Some government offices, however, choose to make their findings public for various reasons. This year, the Culture, Art, and Communications Research Center's Polling Agency is one such example. It is the first government center to publish the results of a study conducted between June 11 and June 13. The Culture Ministry-affiliated center states that the study was conducted through nationwide telephone interviews but does not disclose the number of individuals interviewed. The results of this poll have been quoted by several well-known and traceable social media users.

The study's first finding estimates voter turnout for the election to be between 51 and 56 percent. Most commentators, including those from other polling agencies, have similarly predicted a turnout of around 50 percent, following the Guardian Council's approval of one 'reformist' candidate. However, pessimistic observers insist that despite Masoud Pezeshkian's candidacy, the turnout is likely to be closer to 40 percent.

The study says that some 62 percent of the voters willing to take part in the election have still not made up their mind about their favorite candidate. Based on the study, the other 40 percent votes are going to go to:

Saeed Jalili 36.7 percent
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf 30.4 percent
Massoud Pezeshkian 28.3 Percent
Alireza Zakani 01.7 Percent
Mostafa Pourmohammadi 01.4 Percent
Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh 01.4 Percent

However, according to estimates on social media, Pezeshkian is generally believed to be way ahead of Jalili. On the other hand, the undecided voters' say if they ever decide to vote. They will vote for:

Massoud Pezeshkian 15.8 Percent
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf 12.0 percent
Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh 03.8 Percent
Saeed Jalili 3.0 percent
Alireza Zakan i0.8 Percent
Mostafa Pourmohammadi 0.0 Percent

The situation could have changed over the past five days, but that remains to be seen after similar poll results come out.

In the meantime, an unscientific poll conducted on a popular Telegram page, which has over 23,000 subscribers, among around 6000 voters who had voted for pragmatist candidate Hassan Rouhani in 2017, returned the following results about their voting pattern in the 2021 and 2024 presidential elections:

Did not vote in 2021 but will vote in 202410 percent
Voted in 2021 and will vote in June 202410 percent
Did not vote in 2021 and will not vote in 202456 percent
Voted in 2021 but will not vote in 202411 percent
Still undecided 13 percent

The account pointed out that based on voter comments not included in this study, Pezeshkian is far less popular than Abdolnaser Hemmati, a reformist candidate in 2021.

These were the only two polls with known sources. Other polls, with unidentified origins, appear to be part of some candidates' campaigns and likely contain more opinion and advocacy than factual data.

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