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Presidential Election

Benchmarking Expectations: Pre-Election Polling and Accountability

Taeku Lee's picture

The on-going controversy around the presidential election result in Iran raises an important curiosity.  It is clear at the present moment that the official results have defied expectations and dashed hopes for many.  From the standpoint of political accountability, there are at least two important questions that arise.  First, where do these expectations and hopes come from?  Perceptions that the election was "stolen" must be based in some sense of a range of plausible outcomes, and the declared 63% to 34% split clearly fell out of this range for Moussavi supporters and comfortably within this range for Ahmadinejad supporters.  The problem of conflicting pre-election expectations is an old one, rooted in what social scientists often call "homophily."  Where we stand is often determined by where we sit, and we tend to sit in deeply embedded and entrenched social information networks amongst others who are very much like us in body, mind, and spirit.  Those in the Ahmadinejad camp most likely set their expectations in the company of other Ahmadinejad supporters and those in the Moussavi camp most likely set their expectations in the company of fellows who championed Moussavi's cause.