Iranian attitudes about US-Iranian relations in the Trump era

IranPoll has conducted its most recent poll in Iran for the University of Maryland CISSM shortly after President Trump’s election. The poll covers a wide range of issues, including Iranian people’s attitudes toward Trump, how they evaluate the nuclear deal (JCPOA) a year after the Implementation Day, whether or not they are open to renegotiating the nuclear agreement, and how they plan to vote in Iran’s upcoming presidential election in May of this year.

The poll with a representative national sample of 1000 Iranians was conducted over telephone from December 10 to 24, 2016. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%. University of Maryland CISSM designed the questionnaire.

The detailed frequency table of the poll could be found here.

The poll is quite revealing and timely in many aspects. As President Trump talks more and more about the need to review and toughen the nuclear deal that was reached with Iran in July 2015, the new poll shows that a large majority of Iranians oppose making any more concessions even if the US offered to lift more sanctions. Iranian people’s resistance to providing greater concession seems to be rooted in their lack of confidence that the United States would keep its end of the bargain.

The poll also reveals that support for the JCPOA as its stands is diminishing in Iran. Large Majorities say that contrary to their expectation the deal has not improved the living condition of ordinary Iranians and that the United States is actively obstructing promised sanctions relief.

Considering that the nuclear deal is regarded to be the most salient accomplishment of President Rouhani, the declining enthusiasm for the JCPOA is also impacting Rouhani’s popularity and chances of re-election in Iran’s May 2017 presidential election. Just as examples, the percentage of Iranians saying they have a “very favorable” opinion of Rouhani has dropped from 61% shortly after the deal was reached in the summer of 2015 to only 28% today and the proportions of people saying they will vote for him in the upcoming election has dropped below half. 


Event at the Atlantic Council:

University of Maryland CISSM and Atlantic Council will be holding a panel discussion on Iranian public opinion toward the United States following the election of Donald Trump. The event will present new public opinion poll collected by for CISSM after the Nov. 2016 election on Iranian attitudes toward domestic and international economic and political issues.

In particular, the event will explore current Iranian attitudes toward the recent nuclear agreement, President Trump, potential changes in US policy toward Iran, the upcoming Iranian president elections, and Iranian economic policy. 

The event will be held on January 25, 2017 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Atlantic Council. The event is open to press and on the record.

For more information and to RSVP, please visit CISSM or Atlantic Council


Media Coverage:

Below are links to the articles covering this poll:

New poll of the Iranian people on the anniversary of nuclear deal (JCPOA)

Recently conducted a nationally representative survey of Iranian regarding their perception and assessment of the nuclear deal one year after it was reached. The survey was conducted for the University of Maryland CISSM, which also designed the questionnaire and wrote the report. 

Further details about our survey methodology is available here. Also, you can learn about our data collection capabilities here.

Please find the detailed trend and frequency tables of this poll here and the full report here. University of Maryland has also covered this poll here.

The survey covers a wide range of issues including:

  1. Perception of the nuclear deal one year after it was reached
  2. Rouhani’s standing as Iran’s 2017 Presidential elections nears
  3. Iran’s involvements in Syria
  4. View toward ISIS
  5. Views toward other countries

A year ago, when the nuclear deal was signed, 63 percent of Iranians said they expected tangible economic improvements within a year. However, a year later, three quarters (74%) of Iranians say there has been no improvement at all.
Such perceptions appear to be hurting President Hassan Rouhani’s prospects for reelection a year from now. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has closed the gap with Rouhani to just 8 points among likely voters in the next election, from a 27-point gap in May 2015.
A widely held perception is that the United States is obstructing sanctions relief. Three in four
Iranians think that the United States is actively preventing other countries from normalizing their trade and economic relations with Iran, contrary to its obligation in the nuclear agreement. Two in three Iranians believe that while the United States has lifted the sanctions it agreed to lift in the nuclear agreement, it is finding other ways to keep the negative effects of those sanctions. This may be contributing to the lack of improvement in views of the United States despite the nuclear deal: very large majorities—currently 73 percent —continue to have a negative view of the United States.
Eroding confidence in the benefits of the deal may be reducing popular support for it. A year ago and right after the nuclear agreement was signed, 76 percent of Iranians approved of the deal (43% strongly). Today, however, 63 percent approve of the deal (22% strongly).
Besides not yet receiving the anticipated benefits from the nuclear agreement, some of this
decline in support for the deal may also be related to the Iranian public gaining a somewhat more accurate understanding of its less popular aspects. A majority (60%, up from 33% last year) now realizes that Iran has accepted limits on its nuclear research. A majority (61%, up from 30% last year) also knows that many U.S. sanctions are not covered by the agreement and will continue.
Yet, a growing majority continues to believe, inaccurately, that under the deal, the International
Atomic Energy Agency is not permitted to inspect Iranian military sites under any conditions
(64%, up from 61% last year).

Below are links to the articles covering this poll:

Rouhani comes out of election with broad-based support, However, Parliament Divided Between Reformists, Conservatives, and Independents

A new poll of Iranians finds that in the wake of the parliamentary election, Rouhani is in a strong position with the Iranian public. Sixty-three percent say they voted for candidates who support Rouhani, while just 22% say they voted for his critics. 

Rouhani’s support is not limited to voters who favored the Reformist group. Even among those
who voted for the conservative Principlist group, 50% said they voted for pro-Rouhani
candidates, as did 81% of pro-Reformist voters and 61% of voters for independents.

This does not mean that Reformists now have the upper hand in the Majlis, the Iranian
parliament. Only 33% of Iranians who voted, said they voted for Reformist candidates, while
35% said they favored the conservative Principlist candidates, and 24% independent candidates.

The study is based on two telephone polls, one conducted before and the other conducted after the parliamentary elections in Iran. The first poll was conducted February 15 – 24, 2016 among a representative sample of 1,016 Iranians and the second poll was conducted March 3 – 13, 2016 among a representative sample of 1,005 Iranians. The margin of error for both polls is about +/-3.2%., an independent Toronto-based polling organization, conducted both polls for the University of Maryland Center for International and Security Studies.

The full report is available here. The full frequency tables are available here.

Iranians strongly support Rouhani and his growing international engagement

While views of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have declined from their heights immediately after the nuclear deal, the two leaders continue to enjoy very high levels of popular support in Iran, and their allies have good prospects in the upcoming elections. Views of the nuclear deal continue to be very positive, though some of its less popular aspects have become more apparent. Going forward there is support for growing engagement with the international community, especially in regard to dealing with the problem of Syria and the fight against ISIS. 

A new survey of the Iranian public finds that that nearly 8 in 10 Iranians say they have a favorable opinion of Rouhani (82%) and Zarif (78%). With Iran’s parliamentary elections about a month away, nearly 6 in 10 Iranians (59%) want Rouhani supporters to win. More than seven in ten Iranians still approve of the nuclear deal. 

The telephone poll of 1,012 Iranians was conducted December 29, 2015 – January 15, 2016 for the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland by, an independent, Toronto-based polling organization. The margin of error was +/- 3.2%.

The full report and frequency tables are available here.

Iranians overwhelmingly welcome open trade and growing business ties with other countries

  • 85% of Iranians welcome the growing trade and business ties between Iran and other countries,
  • Iranians are more open to foreign trade than Americans, French, Japanese, Italians, Russians, and Indians,
  • 90% of Iranians expect a lot more foreign companies making investments in Iran,
  • 61% like to see Iran developing greater trade relations with European countries,
  • 58% believe an increase in import of foreign made goods would be beneficial for Iran's economy,
  • German products are most favored (91%), followed by products from Japan (89%), France (88%), South Korea (83%), USA (79%), Italy (79%), and UK (74%),
  • Cosmetic products have the most crowded competition with consumers naming 107 distinct brands from 25 different countries,
  • In this study, Iranians identify a total of 434 distinct brands across 15 major sectors, including Food, Hair Products, Audio-Video Products, Large Home Appliances, Small Home Appliances, Cosmetics, Automobile, Motor Oil, Clothing, Cellphones, and Pharmaceuticals.

According to a recent survey conducted by, an overwhelming majority (85%) of Iranians believe that growing trade and business tie between Iran and other countries is either very (31%) or somewhat (53%) good for Iran. A large but smaller majority (57%) of Iranians also believe that an increase in import of foreign made goods would be very (13%) or somewhat (44%) beneficial for Iran’s economy.

The nationally representative survey was done by - an independent full-service opinion research and consultancy firm in Toronto, Canada, focusing exclusively on Iran - in partnership with Tehran Bureau - an independent news organisation, hosted by the Guardian. The sample of 1,003 Iranians were surveyed using telephone polling between the dates of 2-11 October 2015, giving a sampling margin of error of +/- 3.2%.

Tehran Bureau has published an article on this poll available on the Guardian here.

Survey also included a comparative question about openness to foreign trade that Pew Research Center has been fielding in 59 countries since 2002. Based on this comparison, Iranians are more open to foreign trade than Americans, French, Japanese, Italians, Russians, and Indians. In addition, Iranians are equally in favor of foreign trade as Canadians and the Swedes.

Survey also found that 90% of Iranians expect a lot more foreign companies making investments in Iran and 58% believe that an increase in import of foreign made goods would be beneficial for Iran's economy. Among various countries with which Iran can develop its trade relations, Germany is the most favored. In total, 61% like to see Iran developing greater trade relations with European countries.

The survey shows considerable opening to multinational companies considering to enter Iranian’s market. Iranians give high marks to German and Japanese goods. An overwhelming majority (91%) of Iranians believe that Germany produces high quality goods (91%), followed closely by Japan (89%), France (88%), South Korea (83%), USA (79%), Italy (79%), and the UK (74%). Chinese and Indian products get the lowest quality ratings from Iranians; with two in three (66%) Iranians believing that the quality of Chinese goods is at least “somewhat bad” and a plurality (46%) regarding Indian goods to be of inferior quality.

The survey finds cosmetics to have the most crowded competition with Iranian consumers naming a total of 107 distinct cosmetic brands from 25 different countries. In this study, Iranians named a total of  434 distinct brands from across 15 major sectors, including Food, Hair Products (64 brands from 7 countries), Audio-Video Products (31 brands from 10 countries), Large Home Appliances (87 brands from 13 countries), Small Home Appliances (67 brands from 14 countries), Cosmetics (107 brands from 25 countries), Automobile (25 brands from 9 countries), Motor Oil (18 brands from 5 countries), Clothing (from 16 countries), Cellphones (33 brands from 11 countries), and Pharmaceuticals.

The study find that Iran’s hair products market is dominated by five Iranian brand of Sehat (26%), Parjak (13%), Garugar (11%), Golrang (7%), and Shabnam (5%). Yet, Iran’s home Audio/Video market is dominated by the two South Korean brands of Samsung (40%) and LG (26%) followed by Japan’s Sony (16%). While Iran’s large home appliances market is not captured by any one brand, South Korean brands of Samsung and LG do the best in that market as well. Samsung is named by 18% of the respondents and LG is named by 16%.

Iran’s mobile phone market has many major players. South Korea’s Samsung does best with 36% of Iranians saying that they use a Samsung mobile device. Following Samsung, Finland’s Nokia (26%), followed by Japan’s Sony (10%), China’s Huawei (8%), America’s Apple (4%), Iran’s GLX (3%), South Korea’s LG (3%), and Taiwan’s HTC (3%) are the most used mobile phone brands. Finally, Iran’s auto market is fully dominated by two Iranian car producer with 48% of Iranians driving IranKhodro and 26% driving SAIPA.

In response to the findings, Dr. Ebrahim Mohseni, Research Scholar at the University of Maryland said: “While Iranians regard products from countries like Germany, France, and Japan to be of higher quality, the reality is that due to their long absence from Iran’s market, producers in these countries have lost touch with Iranian consumers and would face significant competition from those who have become firmly established during their years of absence.”  

Speaking about these results and the opportunity for foreign companies, Dr. Amir Farmanesh, CEO and co-founder of said: “As the results of our survey show, Iranians are more open to foreign trade than Americans, French, Japanese, Italians, Russians, and Indians. Iran’s favorable demographics and energy reserves data, and its people’s openness to international trade, demonstrates long-term market potential for foreign firms. For the managers of international companies, it is now the time to plan ahead, and prepare for the opportunities and challenges of Iran's lucrative, largely unexploited, and indeed complicated marketplace.”

Research Methodology

A nationally representative survey sample of 1,003 Iranians was conducted using telephone (CATI) between the dates of 2-11 October 2015, giving a sampling margin of error of +/- 3.2%.

The sample was an RDD sample drawn from all landline telephones line in Iran. The sample was stratified first by Iranian provinces and then in accordance to settlement size and type. All 31 Iranian provinces were represented in proportions similar to their actual populations, as were rural and urban areas.

The contact rate, defined as the proportion of respondents who were reached and ultimately agreed to be interviewed relative to the number of respondents attempted, was 72%. The completion rate was 83%.

All of the interviews were conducted using computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) in a centralized call center. All interviews were monitored in real-time by call-center supervisors and were recorded.

For more on's methodology please visit here.

Survey finds President Rouhani's popularity soaring among Iranians - in Guardian:

The Iranian government has been far more effective than the American administration in galvanising public opinion in support of the nuclear agreement. According to a recent survey by, a Toronto-based polling company, for the University of Maryland, three in four Iranians support the nuclear agreement and give high marks to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for making it happen.

The deal has helped Rouhani consolidate his political standing, with 89% of Iranians expressing favourable attitudes toward him and 60% saying they want the president’s allies and supporters to win control of parliament in elections due in February. Much of this support, however, appears to rest on misperceptions about Iran’s commitments under the agreement and on unrealistic expectations about its likely economic benefits.

Read the full article on the Guardian here.

Iranian public opinion on the nuclear agreement

A new survey of the Iranian public finds that a large majority supports the nuclear agreement that Iran and the P5+1 countries reached in Vienna. Three in four (76%) express support for the deal, and only 21% oppose it.

President Rouhani has consolidated his political position. Three quarters say that the deal has made their opinion of President Rouhani much (35%) or somewhat (40%) better. Rouhani’s approval rating—now a stratospheric 88%--has improved, with a large majority (61%) now having a very favorable view (up from 51% in July 2014). Views of Rouhani’s political opponents have declined and a substantial majority (60%) prefers to see Rouhani supporters win out over his critics in the upcoming parliamentary elections (up from 50% in May 2015).

The telephone poll of 1,000 Iranians was conducted August 8-18, 2015, by, an independent, Toronto-based polling organization, for the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. The margin of error was +/- 3.2%. 

Read the full report of this study here.

Read the full questionnaire and frequency tables here.

Managing Post-Nuclear Deal Expectations: Difficult Road Ahead

As difficult as it was for President Rouhani to secure a deal, it will be even more difficult for him to sustain popular support for it when all the excitement dies down. In a new poll that, an independent Toronto-based opinion research firm, conducted for the University of Maryland, a majority (57 percent) of Iranians expressed support for the deal.

Yet, the expressed support heavily rests on the assumption, held by most Iranians, that the deal will result in better access to foreign medicines and medical equipment (61 percent); significantly more foreign investment (62 percent); and tangible improvements in living standards (55 percent), all within a year.

If these expectations are not realized quickly, Rouhani will be left with the unpleasant task of explaining who has pocketed the benefits of the deal and what Iran got in return for rolling back the nuclear program. This will be particularly difficult since 83 percent of Iranians think it is "very important" for Iran to continue developing its nuclear program and Rouhani would need to show that what Iran got in return was better. This level of Iranian support for Iran to develop its nuclear program has remained essentially unchanged across various polls conducted in Iran since 2006.

The national telephone poll of 1,009 Iranians was conducted by and University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research (UTCPOR) for University of Maryland's Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) on 12-28 May 2015, with a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

In reaction to the nuclear deal, Ali Tayebnia, Iran's minister for economic affairs and finance, acknowledged these challenges:

With the deal, we need a few months after the implementation of the agreed processes by Iran and the west before the full effects of the lifting of the sanctions can manifest. At the same time, people are worn down by the pressures of the past few years and expect a swift resolution to the country's economic problems.

The deal could introduce other problems for President Rouhani as well. Iran's economy suffers from many structural deficiencies that are mostly the byproducts of mismanagement and corruption. To this date, Iranian officials had the luxury of blaming Iran's sluggish economy on "unjust" foreign sanctions. The post-deal environment, however, will be different and Iranians are more likely to place the blame for Iran's underperforming economy on Iranian policymakers. With a diminished scapegoat, Rouhani will quickly come under increasing pressure to explain why he has not been able to turn things around.

More significantly, Iran's economy is in dire need of foreign investment, particularly in its oil and gas sectors. While the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will lift many restrictions that were placed on such investments in Iran's economy, by no mean does it advocate such investments. To this date, the United States has been able to impose staggering fines on global financial institutions that have been found to evade US sanctions and the pain of these fines are not likely to be forgotten by banks for the years to come. With most US sanctions on Iran still in place and the snap-back provisions that are included in the deal, major multinational companies are unlikely to accept the risks of investing in Iran.

The most likely scenario, considering Iran's impressive cash reserves held in foreign banks and a middle-class with an acquired taste for foreign goods, is that most companies would want to exploit Iran's market by selling their goods to Iran in return for fast risk-free cash instead of investing in it. While this will lower the cost of consumer goods in Iran, the competition is likely to force many Iranian industries into bankruptcy, resulting in higher unemployment rates. Of course, Iran could prevent this by introducing tariffs with equal effect of the sanctions, in which case the whole economic point of the deal would be lost.

Still, the positive psychological effects of the deal, the initial catch-up effect of suppressed inherent development capacities of a well-educated 80 million strong population, and Iran's relatively unique stance as an unexploited large economy might help Rohani carry public support in the short term. In the long run, however, there is no substitute for effective governance and sound economic management.

Majority of Iranian public approves pursuing agreement on nuclear program, however, most assume that U.S. would lift all its sanctions on Iran

In a new survey of the Iranian public, a solid majority supports pursuing a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. When presented a summary of key points on which negotiators for the P5+1 have already reached an understanding with Iran, a clear majority (57%) expressed support for a deal under which Iran, for a number of years, would limit its centrifuges and nuclear stockpile to the level needed for nuclear energy and accept more extensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency in return for the P5+1 accepting Iran to enrich uranium, lifting of economic sanctions, and expanding nuclear cooperation with Iran. Only 15 percent were opposed; another 28 percent were equivocal or did not know.

Support for the deal may be complicated since attitudes about making a deal on the nuclear program are related to assumptions about whether all US sanctions would be lifted and how quickly Iranians would experience various benefits from sanctions relief. Currently 63 percent of Iranians assume that according to the understanding, all US sanctions on Iran are to be lifted eventually, not just those related to Iran’s nuclear activities. Only 23 percent believe that some US sanctions would continue.  Asked what Iran’s position should be, 51 percent say that unless the US agrees to remove all of its sanctions, Iran should not agree to a deal, while 45 percent say Iran should be ready to make a deal that removes some US sanctions and all UN and EU sanctions.  In this context, support for making a deal is substantially lower among those who believe that the terms of the understanding do not necessarily call for the US to remove all sanctions compared with those who believe that a final agreement would require complete sanctions removal (51% compared with 64%).

Iranians also express high expectations that a nuclear deal, with the removal of sanctions, would produce significant effects within a year.  Majorities say they would expect to see better access to foreign medicines and medical equipment (61%); significantly more foreign investment (62%); and tangible improvement in living standards (55%), all within a year. 

The telephone poll of 1,009 Iranians was conducted May 12-28, 2015, by and the University of Tehran’s Center for Public Opinion Research working in conjunction with the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. The margin of error was +/- 3.2%.

Read the full report of this study here.

How Iranians spend their day compared to the Americans - Iranian time use survey is the exclusive provider of Iranian's cross-sectional time use survey. This in-depth survey has been fielded 3 times since 2010, and it will be repeated in 2015 again.

We offer a comparison between how Iranians spend their day with how Americans spend their day. The American time use data comes from US census, while the visualization is from the New York Times website. plans on analyzing our data in further details in future blog posts. At this stage, it is worth noting the difference between "Work" hours between Iranian and Americans around noon time when Iranians tend to take a long break for lunch and sleep.

How Iranians spend their day - Iranian time use survey

How Americans spend their day - The New York Times

Iranian Public Opinion on the Nuclear Negotiations

As negotiators from Iran and the P5+1 draw up a final agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program prior to the June 30 deadline, a number of key questions remain unanswered: Will the Iranian public support a final agreement within the outlines provided by the framework of understandings negotiated earlier this year? What expectations does the Iranian public have about the deal? How might these expectations pose challenges for the Rouhani government in selling a deal and sustaining support going into the next election?  How popular is Rouhani and his supporters in the Parliament?

A new study of Iranian public opinion conducted by, the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), and the University of Tehran’s Center for Public Opinion Research in May 2015 explores Iranian public opinion on the nuclear negotiations.

Please join us for a presentation and discussion about the study’s findings in an event held on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 09:30 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room (2nd floor), 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036.

Iranian Views on the Quality of Products from 10 Countries

As the negotiators from Iran and the P5+1 countries push for a final deal, many non-Iranian producers of consumer goods are pondering whether or not they should enter into Iran’s market if US and UNSC sanctions against Iran do get lifted. Among issues they often ponder and inquire about, is how well their brand is recognized and what kind of quality Iranians associated with products produced in various countries.

In its June 2015 CATI omnibus survey, asked Iranians to rate the quality of products produced in ten countries. In short, while German and Japanese products are highly regarded, Iranians have very negative feelings toward Chinese goods: 

Opportunity and Inequality around the World: Iran in Comparison to 44 Countries

On October 9, 2014, Pew Research Center released a report that examined public opinion about opportunity and inequality around the world. The report, which was based on surveys conducted in 44 countries, did not however include the opinions of the Iranian people. In its CATI omnibus poll fielded in May 2015, asked Pew’s questions regarding the financial prospects for the next generation and the factors that most affect one’s socioeconomic status in life from the Iranian people.

In general, Iranian people are not very different from people in other emerging economies. While an overwhelming majority (86%) of Iranians think that young people would be better off not emigrating to another country, only half (50%) think that the next generation will be financially better off than their parents. Also, a majority (55%) of Iranians at least “mostly” agree that “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside of our control.”

Income inequality is a huge concern in Iran as it is in most other emerging economies. Some two out of three (63%) of Iranians think that the gap between the rich and poor is a “very big problem” in Iran. As for the determinants of success, Iranians give working hard, having good education, and, of course, knowing the “right people,” quite high scores.

The following charts compares where Iranian people stand as compared to other countries in the word on opportunities, in equality, and determinants of success:


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