In August of 2008, the Public Affairs of Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)
commissioned Zogby International to conduct a national public opinion survey of
Iranian Americans to gather accurate and timely information about the
demographics and views of the Iranian American community. The purpose of this
unprecedented survey is to provide PAAIA with the knowledge required to more
effectively represent the Iranian American community, and to further inform and
educate the American public at large, as well as U.S. policy makers and opinion
makers about Iranian Americans. The survey's margin of error is +/- 5%.
The results of this PAAIA/Zogby survey indicate that nearly all Iranian
Americans are either citizens (81%) or permanent residents (15%) of the United
States. While their ethnic heritage is important to the vast majority of Iranian
Americans in defining their identity, they appear to be well-assimilated into
American society, with only one in five indicating that they interact mostly
with other Iranian Americans outside of work, and more than half indicating
English as the language or one of two languages most often spoken at home.
The survey paints the picture of a diverse and relatively affluent Iranian
American community. While two-fifths of Iranian Americans identify themselves as
Muslims, almost an equal percentage appear not to practice any particular
religion, and the balance are roughly equally divided among Christians, Jews,
Bahais and Zoroastrians. Almost one in three Iranian American households have
annual incomes of more than $100K (compared to one in five for the overall U.S.
According to the survey results, four of every five Iranian American is
registered to vote. Also, a relatively significant margin have in the past
engaged in electoral activities other than voting, with about one in three
having either met or communicated with public officials, or having donated money
to a political candidate or campaign. About one half of Iranian Americans
surveyed identified themselves as registered Democrats, in contrast to one in
eight as Republicans and one in four as independents.
More than half of Iranian Americans cite domestic U.S. issues, including issues
that are not unique to Iranian Americans, as the most important to them. In
contrast, one quarter of Iranian Americans cite foreign policy issues involving
U.S.-Iran relations and less than one in ten cite the internal affairs of Iran
as being of greatest importance to them. On matters impacting Iranian Americans
in the U.S., the two most important issues cited were facilitating greater
understanding between the peoples of the United States and Iran (85%) and
ensuring that the image of Iranian Americans in the U.S. accurately reflects
their values and accomplishments (75%).
Nearly half of Iranian Americans surveyed have themselves experienced or
personally know another Iranian American who has experienced discrimination
because of their ethnicity or country of origin. The most common types of
discrimination reported are airport security, social discrimination, employment
or business discrimination, racial profiling and discrimination at the hands of
An overwhelming eighty-four percent of all Iranian Americans support the
establishment of a U.S. interest section in Iran that would provide consular
services and issue U.S. visas. The establishment of such an interest section
would serve American citizens, including many Iranian Americans, traveling to
Iran and would facilitate the travel of their relatives from Iran to the U.S.,
but would not amount to the establishment by the United States government of
formal diplomatic relations with Iran.
Finally, the survey indicates that almost three-quarters of Iranian Americans
believe the promotion of human rights and democracy in Iran is the most
important issue relating to U.S.-Iran relations. About the same percentage,
however, believe diplomacy is the foreign policy approach towards Iran that
would be in the best interest of the United States.
Zogby International is a pre-eminent polling firm that has been tracking
public opinion throughout the world since 1984 and has a particular expertise in
conducting polls of or about ethnic communities in the United States.