Nation, World + Society

UCLA sociologist publishes results of first-ever poll to explore voter conduct in Iran

Survey findings seek to provide information about Iran that does not currently exist in the public sphere

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Kevan Harris
Peggy McInerny/UCLA

Kevan Harris

A UCLA sociologist has published the findings of a nation-wide poll that reveals much about the political behavior of voters in Iran. It is the first report of its kind to break down Iranian voter turnout based on demographic data and adds to the discussion and understanding of public demonstrations that broke out in provincial cities throughout Iran on December 28, 2017. 

The report was co-authored by UCLA assistant professor of sociology Kevan Harris, who also holds an appointment in the UCLA International Institute, and Daniel Tavana, a doctoral candidate at Princeton University. It was published by the European Iran Research Group in Sweden. The report distills the most time-relevant findings of the Iran Social Survey, a 2016 nationwide poll conducted in Iran.

The landline survey sample included individuals from all provinces — rural and urban — in the country. Questions addressed political participation and mobilization, ethnicity, language, occupation, education and social mobility.

Reports about the 2016 survey findings seek to provide information about Iran that does not currently exist in the public sphere to the general public, journalists, policy makers and scholars. Future reports are expected to cover changes in Iran with respect to ethnicity and language, education and work, and gender and civil society, respectively.

One discovery from the survey data is that vote switching occurs among voters, said Harris, who aims to repeat the survey every four years. That is, people switch their votes among loose political associations of candidates often created specifically for national elections in Iran (the country does not have political parties). Not only does the composition of these groups change from one election to another, but people change the groups of candidates for whom they vote, Harris said.

“Political competition in Iran is not pitting generations against each other or tradition versus modernity,” he said. “In fact, the survey shows that each of these groups that we often use to tell the story of change in Iran are actually in and of themselves divided along those very same political orientations.”

Read the full story on the UCLA International Institute’s website.

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