Iranian Americans strongly support establishing U.S. Interests Section in Iran and facilitating greater understanding between the peoples of Iran and the United States
May 27, 2014, Washington, D.C. – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today released the findings of its sixth national public opinion survey of Iranian Americans. The 2014 survey was conducted by George Mason University in April and follows similar annual surveys commissioned by PAAIA. The surveys are an integral component of better understanding the Iranian American community and having its voice heard through the availability of ongoing scientific data.
PAAIA 2014 Survey Highlights
Iranian Americans maintain strong transitional ties with the people of Iran. 82% of the respondents stated that they still have family living in Iran. A total of 51% said that they communicate with family members in Iran at least several times per month, while nearly a third indicated that they travel to Iran once every 2-3 years.
When asked about issues of importance to them as Iranian Americans, 78% said they believe it is important to facilitate greater understanding between the peoples of the United States and Iran. 71% believe it is important to make visa issuance to friends and family in Iran less difficult. A 60% majority believes it is important to help Iranian Americans get elected to political office and increase the political influence of Iranian Americans in the U.S.
Iranian Americans want to see change in Iran. 67% cite the promotion of human rights and democracy as the most important issue in U.S.-Iran relations. More than two-thirds believe Iran should be a secular democracy.
While Iranian Americans want to see a democratic Iran that respects human rights, they differ on how this can be achieved. 49% said that diplomatic negotiations with Iran would be in the best interests of the United States, while 46% said the same about “promoting human rights and democracy.” Only 6% said that military action against Iran would be in America’s best interest.
An overwhelming majority of Iranian Americans—83%—said they strongly or somewhat support the establishment of a U.S. Interests Section in Iran that would provide consular services and issue U.S. visas, but would not constitute the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
On matters related to Iran’s nuclear program, a majority of Iranian Americans – 52% – stated they approved of President Obama’s handling of the issue. 46% oppose the passage of additional sanctions while negotiations continue with Iran over its nuclear program, while 24% would support it.
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed – 62% – would support the removal of sanctions on Iran if the Iranian regime reached a permanent agreement with the U.S. and the international community concerning its nuclear program.
In the event nuclear negotiations fail, 66% of Iranian Americans support continued diplomatic overtures, while only 13% support military strikes. 51% prefer that the U.S. pursue a policy of containment against Iran. Nearly one-half (49%) oppose the passage of new sanctions if the negotiations fail, while 34% would support such measures.
Iranian Americans are divided in their assessment of the 2013 election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president. A majority—54%—said that they believe Rouhani’s election will improve Iran’s relations with the United States and the European Union. 31% believe his election will improve human rights in Iran, while 38% believe the situation will remain unchanged and 18% believe it will get worse.
PAAIA’s 2014 Survey of Iranian Americans was conducted by George Mason University Center for Social Science Research (CSSR) based on successful telephone interviews in English. CSSR is a multidisciplinary research center within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The margin of error for the results of the 2014 survey is +/- 5 percentage points.