Fear, Not Fraud, May Have Won Iranian Election

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 15, 2009 3:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – A pre-election poll of Iranian voters favoring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been held up as proof that the election was fair. Not so, writes Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight.com. The poll, conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow, found that 33.8% of respondents intended to vote for Ahmadinejad, versus 13.6% for Mir Hossein Mousavi. But a shocking 42.5% refused to answer or said they were undecided.

“They might not have told TFT whom they were planning to support,” Silver writes. “But that doesn't mean they were truly undecided.” In an authoritarian state, those unsure about their vote could be persuaded to toe the line. “This story really isn't about the way that the votes were counted,” Silver writes. "It's about whether Iran is capable at this point of having an election in which the democratic will of its electorate is properly reflected.”

A Mousavi supporter.   (AP Photo)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.   (AP Photo)
An Iranian supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is beaten by government security members.   (AP Photo)
Leading challenger and reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.   (AP Photo)
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The swing votes in Iran are not those blue-haired ladies...They are rather the perhaps 30 percent of the population who were trying to weigh the potential risk to their persons or their standing in the community in voting against Ahmadinejad.
- Nate Silver

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