Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Vladimir Putin's Unflagging Popularity

Updated May 2017

While Washington seems to be doing its very best to promote its anti-Russian agenda, there is one thing that America's current political leadership fails to grasp; the domestic popularity of Vladimir Putin among Russians.

Let's start by looking at Barack Obama's approval rating over his entire term from Real Clear Politics' Poll Average:

In a last minute reflection by Americans, the final average approval ratings show that 57.2 percent of Americans approved of his performance compared to 39.3 percent who disapproved.  This is far better than his approval rating which dropped to 40.1 percent in December 2013.  As late as March 2016, his approval rating spread was negative meaning that more Americans disapproved of his performance than those who approved.  When it comes to President Obama's approval rating on foreign policies, his spread drops to +1.5 with 46.3 percent approving of his performance compared to 44.8 percent who disapprove.

Now, let's look at Donald Trump's approval rating from Real Clear Politics' Poll Average:

While the trend is not particularly encouraging, it's still early in the Trump Administration.

Now, let's look at recent polling for Russia's President, Vladimir Putin.  According to the Levada Center, a Russian non-governmental research organization, here is a graphic showing a more comparable measure of Vladimir Putin's approval and disapproval numbers:

Putin's approval rating of over 80 percent is obviously the envy of leaders around the world.  

Now, let's look at another measure of Putin's public approval, the trust that Russians have for his leadership.  According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, the oldest opinion research organization in post-Soviet Russia, here is what Vladimir Putin's trust rating has looked like between February and March 2017:

Mr. Putin leads the pack with between a 50 and 53 percent trust level, down somewhat from 57 percent in late 2016.

Here is a table showing which Russian politicians Russians distrust the most:

In November, only 2 to 3 percent of Russians distrusted Mr. Putin the most among all politicians.  Interestingly, this compares to 12 to 13 percent of respondents who distrusted Russia's current Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, the most.  A full 24 to 27 percent of respondents distrusted Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Vice Chairman of the State Duma and right-leaning leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

Just in case you were curious, here is how Russians feel about the state of Russian democracy from a poll taken by Levada:

A rather overwhelming portion of Russians feel that they do not want Russia's democracy to be a copy of the democracies in Europe and the United States.  With the last American presidential election in mind, no one should question this attitude!

While we might attribute these high levels of support to a skewed Russian survey, in fact, a December 2014 poll of the Russian public by the Associated Press - NORC Center for Public Affairs, in which 2008 Russian adults were surveyed, found that 81 percent of Russians backed Vladimir Putin as the nation's leader even though the Russian economy was in crisis thanks to international sanctions, an approval rating that is backed by the Levada data shown above.  Apparently, at that time, Russians felt that President Putin was the solution to the nation's problem, not the cause.  By way of comparison, in December 2014, the politician who spearheaded the sanctions, Barack Obama, found that his approval rating was around 42 percent with a disapproval rating of around 53 percent for a spread of -11 as shown here:

While we hear all manner of evil things about Russia's President from the western media, there is one thing we can be certain of; America's political leaders would love/kill to have the level of approval from Americans that Mr. Putin currently has among Russians.