Thursday, June 18, 2009

Have you also heard the washington post!!! has suddenly become an Ahmadinejad supporter?

Here's how Ballen and Patrick claim their "scientific" poll indicated Ahmadinejad head in the expected vote

And here's a beautiful rebuttal of these statistically-challenged claimes:

 Iran Election Fraud: Moaddel on Ballen and Doherty

Mansoor Moaddel, a valued colleague, is a sociologist and an important interpreter of the contemporary Middle East who has done a lot of work with polling and statistics, often finding counter-intuitive results. His response to Ballen and Doherty is therefore authoritative and since some continue to cite that op-ed in support of Ahmadinejad's claims, I thought it important to share this further view from someone who knows his way around a chi square.

A Response to 
Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty’s article in Washington Post, Monday, June 15, 2009

By Mansoor Moaddel, Professor of Sociology, Eastern Michigan University, and Research Affiliate, Population Studies Center, Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan, MMoaddel a_t_ umich d o t edu

In the June 15, 2009 issue of Washington Post, Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty wrote that “The election results in Iran may reflect the will of the Iranian people. Many experts are claiming that the margin of victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the result of fraud or manipulation, but our nationwide public opinion survey of Iranians three weeks before the vote showed Ahmadinejad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin -- greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday's election.” 

However, scrutiny of the data posted at Terror Free Tomorrow ( fails to support Ballen and Doherty’s interpretations. Their findings, from a telephone survey conducted four weeks before the election, are based on the responses of only 57.8% of the 1,731 people who were successfully contacted by telephone from outside of Iran. Among these, 34% said they would vote for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 14% for Mir Hussein Mousavi, 2% for Mehdi Karoubi, 1% for Mohsen Rezaie, and 27% did not know. (These figures add up only to 78% in the Ballen report.) In other words, of 1,731 people contacted, well over half either refused to participate (42.2%) or did not indicate a preferred candidate (15.6%) While we cannot guess at the political preferences of this nonresponding/ noncommitting group, we do know from these data that just 19.7% of all those contacted indicated they planned to vote for Ahmadinejad. This polling figure is very low for an incumbent – particularly for a self-described populist candidate – and cannot be responsibly interpreted as representing a clear harbinger of election victory. 

Among those who follow Iranian politics closely, another concern about Ballen and Doherty’s assertioins based on these data is that key political events occurred between the data gathering and the election, as one would expect given Iran’s relatively compressed presidential campaigning. For instance, many believe that Ahmadinejad’s June 3rd debate with Mousavi was particularly damaging to the incumbent. Rather than noting his own political accomplishments, Ahmadinejad began the debate by attacking his detractors, none of whom were among the rival candidates, and was even highly critical of Mousavi’s wife, waving a photo of her in front of the camera for emphasis. During most of the remainder of the debates Ahmadinejad appeared defensive, edgy, and even rude, in high contrast to Mousavi, who by comparison seemed professional and polite. This bizarre behavior opened the door for Ahmadinejad’s rivals to reproach him not only for his economic policies but also his erratic behavior inside the country and abroad. In the week leading up to the election, many observers noted a concomitant rise in the Mousavi’s political popularity. 

So even if Ahmadinejad had an edge over Mousavi a month before the election – even if we subscribe to the interpretation that he was the 2 to 1 favorite among potential voters in mid-May – it is quite reasonable to suppose that his popularity eroded following these debates. And many believe that the erosion became a steep downhill slide. A swift sea change in Iranian politics is consistent with other events in Iran's political history--from the Constitutional Revolution of 1905, to the oil nationalization movement, the Iranian revolution of 1979, and the election of Khatami as president in 1997. In all these cases, Iranians reached national consensus fairly quickly. One month before the election, many thought that the re-election of Ahmadinejad was a fait accompli, but not because Khamenei supported him. Rather, Iranians were demoralized and uninterested in the elections, especially non-supporters of Ahmadinejad. 

Keen prognosticators argued that the outcome of the election was very sensitive to voter turnout, with rates of voting higher than 65% favoring Mousavi. For a good many reasons that do not concern us here, opinion leaders inside the country and abroad reached the conclusion that the boycott of the previous election had been counterproductive and that this time participation was key to challenging the extant administration. And, because the relationship between voting rates and candidate preference had a curvilinear shape in favor of the pro-reformist candidates, a linear extrapolation from weeks-old polling numbers makes little sense. And in fact, several polls taken just days before the election showed Mousavi with a lead over Ahmadinejad – this despite government-orchestrated threats and media obstructions designed to derail the pro-reformist candidates and their supporters. 

How then do we explain Balen and Doherty’s legitimization of the declaration from Iran’s Interior Ministry that Ahmadinejad prevailed with 63.62% of the votes? The absurdity of the government’s election engineering is that none of the candidates managed to get more than a fraction of the votes even in their hometowns. And the scarcely veiled threats by the Revolutionary Guards to swiftly stifle any attempt at a “velvet revolution,” the disconnection of the SMS network of mobile users, and the filtering of websites belonging to the reformist candidates – all seem more characteristic of a dictatorship staging a political coup than of a confident incumbent administration awaiting a mandate from the people. Despite the approbation of Iran’s election results by Balen, Doherty, and a number of other U.S. commentators, many controversies have marred this election and much skepticism surrounds the official results. Without an honest and objective recounting of the votes, this controversy and skepticism far outweigh any legitimacy conferred by a small set of questionably interpreted polling data. 


nunya said...


It seems pretty obvious to me that there are a lot of people unhappy with the election results since people have been protesting in Iran for what, 6 days now?

David said...

A very well written article by Professor Moaddel! Good for Juan Cole for bringing this to the attention of the mainstream media!

Unknown said...

It seems to me now that the election lacks credibility to enough people that it should be recalled and another vote held with observers from all sides involved in each stage (vote, transport of ballots, count, results announcement). However I can't think of any other nation's establishment that would act in such a way. But if Iran did, it would be remarkable, inspiring and an absolute refutation to the forces who wish to interfere for their own nefarious ends.

Naj said...

Rick, David, Nunya ... CNN's now playing ads by the pro-war lobby!

Time to take on those ... this is such a balancing act for us Iranians ... I am EXHAUSTED, but relentless :)

jmsjoin said...

Those guys are biased and brain dead. As the election got closer the fervor got more obvious. I know Politician's say all the time that they do not believe the polls but I actually do not.

There are too many controllable variables. You can get whatever result you want. It depends on the taker the interpreter the timing and the question as well as how they are posed. That election was flat out stolen.

As you know the Grand Ayatollah will be addressing the people tomorrow. He is on a tight rope and can dictate whether this blows or not.

Naj said...

Please do link to this blog! It's out here for exposure of iranfacts :)

I will come back to the rest later.

I filtered out the translation since it was done automatically, and I have no time to check it. I am in a ocnference now ... bad time to be distracted from Iran, but life must go on!

Khamenei is an ASS!

jmsjoin said...

Hi Naj
I still refuse to believe they counted 40 million hand votes in 2 hours. After listening to Khamenei's 2 hours this morning I am convinced this is going to blow. Khamenei was lying! With Rafsanjani and Mousavi vowing to his the streets tomorrow and Khamenei vowing to crush them this will not be good!
I think you were talking to me but if so I am not sure what you want me to link to!