Recent Western reporting and analyses of Iran depict dire circumstances and make natural assumptions about how the population must be reacting to an economy battered by sanctions from the United States and ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. A public opinion survey conducted in September and early October by the University of Maryland’s Center on International and Security Studies and IranPoll provides data to compare with these assumptions. The telephone survey included a national probability sample of 1,004 respondents. Some results are surprising, and some are remarkably similar to public attitudes about the pandemic in the United States and European countries.
The survey finds that Iran’s public is more pessimistic about the economy than they were earlier in the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign. But domestic mismanagement and rising inflation appear to be bigger factors in this shift than the sanctions per se. Those most directly affected by COVID-19 are more negative about the economy. Yet, the Iranian public is generally satisfied by the government’s response to the pandemic and support public health efforts, even when they make a bad economic situation worse.
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