WASHINGTON, June 15 A poll of Iran's electorate
three weeks before its election showed President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad leading by a 2-to-1 ratio, greater than the
announced results of the contested vote, the pollsters said on
The poll showed Ahmadinejad's disputed victory, which has
sparked riots and demonstrations since it was announced, might
reflect the will of the people and "is not the product of
widespread fraud," pollsters Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty
said in a column in The Washington Post.
The election protests have marked the sharpest display of
discontent in the Islamic republic in years as supporters of
opposition candidate Mirhossein Mousavi alleged fraud in
"While Western news reports from Tehran in the days leading
up to the voting portrayed an Iranian public enthusiastic about
Ahmadinejad's principal opponent ... our scientific sampling
from across all 30 of Iran's provinces showed Ahmadinejad well
ahead," the pollsters said.
Thirty-four percent of those polled said they would vote
for Ahmadinejad while 14 percent preferred Mousavi and 27
percent were undecided.
The poll was conducted by their nonprofit organizations --
Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion and the
American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation -- from
May 11 to 20 and funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
It was the third in a series of polls over the past two
years and consisted of 1,001 telephone interviews in Farsi from
a neighboring country, with a 3.1 percent margin of error.
"The breadth of Ahmadinejad's support was apparent in our
pre-election survey," the pollsters said, rejecting arguments
the poll might have reflected a fearful reluctance to give
The poll also found nearly four in five Iranians wanted to
change the system to give them the right to elect Iran's
supreme leader, not currently subject to popular vote, they
said. Iranians chose free elections and a free press as their
most important priorities.
"These were hardly 'politically correct' responses to voice
publicly in a largely authoritarian society," the pollsters
"The fact may simply be that the re-election of President
Ahmadinejad is what the Iranian people wanted."
(Writing by John Whitesides; editing by Bill Trott)