The US Election and the Iranians’ Views: a Reflection of the Hatred for the IRI

Zamaneh Media
11 min readNov 3, 2020

by Zamaneh Media 3November 2020

About 1,000 Zamaneh Media audience members took part in a poll, expressing their views on the upcoming United States presidential election as it relates to Iranian domestic and foreign policies. Despite the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, which has systematic corruption and mismanagement, leading to a recession in Iran, most of the respondents to this Zamaneh Media poll want Donald Trump to remain in the White House. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents support the Trump administration despite Iran’s current economic conditions, which have negatively affected many working-class families.

However, support for the Trump administration’s Iran policies does not translate into support for a military action against the Islamic Republic. Among the respondents, only 2.5% support war and military confrontations between the US and Iran — which is within the margin of error for this poll.

Support for Trump is predominantly seen among those respondents who currently reside inside of Iran — who happen to be the majority of those who have taken part in this poll. The poll, which was conducted in Persian and targeted only Persian speakers, shows that the current US president has less support among the respondents who reside inside the United States– who are a minority in this poll and who, by far, support Joe Biden. Among those respondents who neither live in Iran nor the United States and are currently residing in other countries, Biden and Trump’s support is equal.

A significant number of Trump or Biden supporters say they have no hope for Iran’s future and the improvement of the conditions in that country. Given that many of the respondents are hoping for the downfall of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this poll results show, above all, a deep hatred among the respondents for the status quo and the current Iranian regime. There is a general feeling of hopelessness and despair when it comes to Iran’s future among all those who have taken the time to reply to questions from this poll.

The 21st Zamaneh Media Opinion Poll entitled “US Election: What do the Iranians Think?” started on Friday, October 23, and ended on Thursday, October 29. In the first two days, the poll was only accessible to the members of the Opinion Panel.

Join the Zamaneh Media Opinion Panel

1,243 respondents took part in the 21st Zamaneh Media poll on the subject of the US presidential election, of which 938 answered all the questions. Zamaneh conducted this poll through the completion of a questionnaire. The margin of error for this poll is 5%.

By conducting this poll, Zamaneh intended to seek Iranians’ opinions inside and outside Iran regarding the upcoming US presidential elections. The result of this poll does not reflect Iranian society’s opinion, only that of the respondents.

Out of 938 complete respondents, 726 (or 77.5% of the population) live in Iran, and 212 (22.5%) live outside Iran. Also, out of 212 respondents residing outside Iran, 39 identified themselves as residents of the United States.

US Election is Important to Iranians

Over 96% of the audience inside Iran and a similar percentage of the respondents residing outside of Iran said that they follow the news of the United States election. Iranians persistent attention to US elections is not surprising given the two countries’ long and tense history. We asked respondents why the US election was important to them.

They had a choice of two options. 92% of the audience living inside Iran indicated that they follow the US election because it has a “direct impact” on Iran’s situation. Twenty-six percent of respondents cited “personal interest” as the reason.

86% of the participants living outside of Iran also chose “the direct impact of this election on the situation in Iran” as the reason they are following the November 3rd election. However, 43% of the respondents residing outside of Iran said that the news is important to them for “its impact on their living conditions outside of Iran.” Of Iranians aboard, 33% follow the US election for personal interest.

Donald Trump is the Winner

The majority of all respondents (about 62.5%) said they would prefer Donald Trump to win the US elections. 29.5% voted for Biden, and 8% said they did not care about the outcome.

Among the respondents inside Iran, the percentage of those who prefer Donald Trump is higher than a similar group outside of Iran. 69% of respondents residing inside Iran chose Donald Trump as the United States president in this poll.

Among respondents living abroad, with the exception of the United States, Donald Trump was just two percent ahead of Biden. A total of 45.5% of the respondents (excluding those residing in the United States) said they would prefer Trump to be president, and 43.5% voted for Biden. This difference is within the range of the polling error.

Compared to the previous two groups (“Iranian-resident” and “non-US-based” participants), a much smaller percentage of US-speaking audiences said they wanted Donald Trump to become president. The first preference is 69% for Biden, 15% for Trump, and a relatively high 15% say they do not care about the election outcome.

Support for Maximum Pressure Campaign

Zamaneh asked the respondents about Donald Trump’s Maximum Pressure Campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Among the poll participants, a higher percentage of those who identified themselves as Iranians living inside Iran agreed with the Maximum Pressure Campaign — that is 66.5%. About 51% of participants outside of the country agreed with this set of Trump administration’s policies known as Maximum Pressure. 13% of participants outside of Iran refrained from commenting on this specific question. This ratio was 8% among the audience inside Iran.

What do Supporters of Sanctions Say?

We asked those in favor of large scale economic sanctions against Iran and policies known as the Maximum Pressure Campaign (MPC) why they agreed with such measures. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one reason for their agreement.

About 76% of those in favor of the Maximum Pressure Campaign who resided inside Iran stated that the number one reason they support MPC is that sanctions weaken the Islamic Republic and bring it to the brink of collapse. Among the audience inside Iran who stated that they agree with the MPC, the following reasons ranked second, third, and fourth, respectively, when they chose their reasons for supporting sanctions against Iran:

  • Sanctions destroy the regime’s financial resources used for repression in Iran — 29.1%;
  • Sanctions encourage people to revolt against the regime — 27.5%;
  • Sanctions have prevented Iran from intervening in the neighboring countries — 26 percent.

The majority — that is 65.7% — of those in favor of the Maximum Pressure Campaign and residing outside of Iran (65.7%) stated that the reason for their agreement with this campaign is that the pressure on Iran is brining the IRI to the brink of collapse; a reason similar to those living inside of Iran.

However, the percentage of those who believed in the impact of sanctions on the “collapse of the regime” is lower among those residing outside of Iran when compared to the respondents answering from inside the country.

A comparison of the views of those in favor of sanctions inside as appose to outside the country shows that those outside Iran believe more in the effect of sanctions on “destroying the regime’s financial resources for repression in Iran.” About 48% of respondents residing outside of Iran voted for this option.

As you can see in the chart below, the order and priority of the reasons given by both groups for agreeing with the Maximum Pressure Campaign are quite similar.

A Contradiction and an Uncertain Future

Interestingly, although 76% of those in favor of sanctions inside Iran (or 48% of all respondents inside Iran) believed that “sanctions had brought the Iranian regime to the brink of collapse,” when those inside of Iran were asked, “what will happen in Iran if Donald Trump wins the Election? Only 25% said that “the Islamic Republic will be overthrown.”

In response to this question, about 28% predicted that “Iran will be forced to negotiate with the United States,” and another 28% predicted that Iran’s economic situation will become even worse than it is now.

The respondents living outside of Iran predicted Iran’s future in a different way in the shadow of President Donald Trump’s second term, if elected.

The first prediction that received the most votes (34%) is that “there will be no war, but sanctions will worsen Iran’s economic crisis.”

The second prediction with 25% of the vote is that “Iran will be forced to negotiate with the United States.” The third prediction, with nearly 17% of the vote, is that “the armed forces in Iran will seize power,” a prediction that, from the point of view of respondents inside Iran, is not a probable option and those inside Iran only assign 7.7% of their votes to this option.

From the Trump supporters’ comments residing inside Iran, we gather that only 35% think about the possibility of regime change following Trump’s reelection. 33% believe that if Trump is reelected, another agreement will be reached between Iran and the United States, and 19% expect the continuation of sanctions to worsen Iran’s economic situation. Of those living inside Iran, 13% have chosen other options such as I to have no idea what will happen (7%), the armed forces will gain more power (3%), military confrontation will occur (2%), and this subject does not matter to me (1%).

Respondents living outside of Iran were far less optimistic that the Islamic Republic would be overthrown if Trump is reelected. According to the chart above, only 11.8% voted for this option, and 25% of respondents inside Iran chose this option.

The contradiction we talked about above about the respondents in favor of maximum pressure in Iran who live inside Iran is also present in the audience’s comments in favor of sanctions who live outside the country.

This poll shows that 65.5% of those in favor of sanctions, which also live outside of Iran (or 33.5% of the total audience living abroad), believe that sanctions have brought the Iranian regime to the brink of collapse.

However, when asked what the consequences of Donald Trump’s election will be, only 12% of all respondents abroad, as well as 12% of those in favor of sanctions abroad, believe that the Iranian regime will collapse if Trump is re-elected.

A closer look at Trump’s supporters’ views shows that a large percentage of them think another deal between Iran and the United States is likely.
Among supporters of Trump’s reelection outside Iran, 34% predict another deal will be negotiated, 28% think things will get worse, 28% say there will be a regime change and the next options are I have no idea (9.4%), the armed forces will gain political power (3.5%), war occurs (2.3%) and it does not matter (1.2%).

What do the Opponents of the Maximum Pressure Campaign Say?

Zamaneh asked those who oppose the Maximum Pressure Campaign why they do so — they were given multiple options to choose from and allowed to choose more than two.

A good number of opponents of sanctions residing inside Iran and abroad state that their first reason for opposing the MPC is the fact that it is “increasing the suffering of the people affected by the sanctions.” A very high percentage — that is, 96% of opponents of sanctions living outside of Iran have voted for the above reason. Inside Iran, 84% state that an increase in people’s suffering is considered the number one reason for their opposition.

As you can see in the chart below, almost the same percentage of opponents of sanctions living inside Iran and those living abroad believe that “sanctions do not effect regime change in Iran.”

Opponents of sanctions outside Iran are more likely than opponents of sanctions inside Iran” to believe that sanctions have exacerbated IRI’s security-centered policies and increased the presence of the armed forces contributing to a militaristic climate in Iran. 33% of Iranians living outside voted against this option, while 21% of those living inside voted for this option.

A small percentage of both groups (9.2%) believe in an increased risk of war and military confrontation as affected by sanctions.

What are the Consequences of Biden Presidency for Iran

We asked all the audience what they thought would happen if Biden became president.

As you can see in the chart below, over 42% of the audience living inside Iran believe that if Biden becomes president, Iran’s current state will be strengthened.

The second largest group (with 22.3%) are those who believe that fresh negotiations between Washington and Tehran will begin if Biden is elected.

A relatively small group (about 12 percent) believes that Iran and the United States will return to JCPOA as an agreement under the UN Security Council.

Unlike Iranians inside Iran, the first prediction of those living outside the country is Biden’s presidency will bring about fresh negotiations between Tehran and Washington — 34.3% voted for this option.

The second prediction of Iranians outside Iran (with nearly 27% of the vote) is that “the current regime in Iran will be strengthened.”

Similar to audiences’ views inside Iran, a relatively small group — 14% of those living outside Iran — believe that Biden’s election will cause Tehran and Washington to adhere back to the JCPOA under the UN Security Council.

The Future of Democracy in Iran

As a final question, Zamaneh asked participants about factors improving Iran’s situation, including factors that would facilitate the progress of democracy.

About 42% of respondents inside believe that the most important factor is “the overthrow of the ruling regime in Iran in any way possible.” Around 20% chose the option of strengthening civil society and organizing popular protests. 19.5% said they had “no hope of improving the situation.”

A closer look at the survey results showed that 14% of those who agreed with the Maximum Pressure Campaign had no hope of changing or improving the situation. However, they prefer that the pressure on Iran continues. The most important reason for the sanctions’ supporters was that the sanctions had brought the Iranian regime to the brink of collapse.

20% of those who opposed the Maximum Pressure Campaign also had no hope for Iran’s progress and democracy. However, most of this group stated that they were opposed to the sanctions because of the suffering inflicted upon the Iranian people because of sanctions. What they presented as the reason for opposing sanctions was offered an emotional justification (reduction of suffering).

The frustration at the status quo is generally pervasive among all groups. 17% of Trump supporters have no hope of the situation improving in Iran. On the other hand, 20% of Biden supporters feel exactly the same. 40% of those who said they did not think Trump or Biden were different also did not expect the situation to improve inside Iran port November 3rd election in the United States.

+Zamaneh Media



Zamaneh Media

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