Putin’s Poll Numbers Descend Back to Earth, Shoigu and Lavrov More Popular Than Leaders of Communists and Nationalists

At lowest poll numbers in 13 years Putin still light years ahead of any other Russian political figure

Vladimir Putin’s trust rating has come down from the post-Crimean high of 71 percent to 32 percent today. That is a big drop. (That’s according to The All-Russian Center for Research of Public OpinionRussia’s oldest, state-run pollster.) In fact as my friend Saker points out, this is Putin’s lowest score in 13 years.

But everything is relative as they say. At 32 percent Putin remains the most trusted political figure in Russia by far.

By the same measure Zhirinovsky, the leader of the nationalist opposition, is trusted by 9 percent, and Zyuganov, the leader of the communist opposition by 6 percent of Russians.

The numbers for the liberal opposition are even lower—virtually in the toilet—with 1.5 percent who trust Alexei Navalny, and 0.1 percent who trust the Hillary Clinton-loving Ksenia Sobchak.

In fact, the most trusted political figures in Russia after Putin are not his opponents, but his own ministers.

By the same method the minister of defense Shoigu is trusted by 15 percent, and foreign minister Lavrov by 13 percent of Russians. Even Medvedev manages 8 percent.

These are low numbers in the absolute but the format in which the question the pollster asks is open ended. It merely asks “Whom would you trust to solve an important state issue?”, without offering up any choices. (When prompted to say whether they trust Putin or not, 72 percent still say they either trust him or “trust him somewhat”.)

What these numbers mean in the relative sense is that—unlike Putin—Shoigu and Lavrov are still riding the post-Crimean, anti-western popularity wave. 

Sure, a year ago Shoigu was at 21 and Lavrov at 17 percent. However for the great majority of their ministerial carreers they have been nowhere near 15 and 13 percent. At any time before 2016 they could have only dreamed about such numbers.

Shoigu has been a minister since 2012, Lavrov since 2004.

In 2024 when Putin steps down Lavrov will be 74 and Shoigu 69. Too bad, I could think of a worse fate for Russia than to be steered by a Lavrov-Shoigu velvet-iron tandem.

Putin has suffered from his association with the unpopular but necessary pension reform. To keep the pension system as it was—with retirement ages at 55 and 60, as health and life expectancy are converging with the west—would have been fiscal adventurism equal to getting bogged down in multiple Afghanistans.

Perhaps a thank you is owed to Americans for building up his popularity to where he could push it through, and not torpedo his presidency.

  1. Savely says

    Shoigu will be next president, because who else?

  2. CHUCKMAN says

    I don’t know exactly what to make of this.

    We certainly know the many problems with polls in the West. Apart from many fundamental problems, polls essentially ask a random group of people – which absolutely has to contain a large percentage who have almost no knowledge of the subject – a question that requires some knowledge to meaningfully answer.

    Their usefulness is extremely limited except as scent trails for politicians looking for votes.

    I read the Saker piece (THE SAKER: “PROSPECTS FOR THE EMERGENCE OF A REAL OPPOSITION IN RUSSIA”), and I did not think much of it. While that author has done some good pieces, I regard his output as consisting of at least an equal number of poor ones. There is some inherent confusion and prejudice that come through.

    Here is the comment I made on that particular piece in Southfront:

    “Talk about trash, this article is it.

    “Just full of unsupported assertions and with an overall lack of understanding about how countries, especially big ones, really work.

    “Citing some polling on individual figures is meaningless without context and without any details about the nature of the poll. Faked and/or incompetent polling happens regularly in the West.”Push”polls are a constant gimmick used in the Western press to give authority to assertions.

    “Any poll which shows Shoigu getting only 14.8%, Lavrov getting 13%, is highly suspect on its face. These are genuinely super-capable individuals in their jobs, quite beyond any norms for performance.

    “When something smells as bad as this article, sharp reader knows something is going on beyond the mere speculations of an amateur affairs analyst.”

    1. Marko Marjanović says

      It’s difficult to be prolific and always offer nothing but top notch quality at the same time but I don’t think there is ever reason to question Saker’s good faith.

      1. CHUCKMAN says

        Yes, you are right, it is hard to be prolific and excellent.

        I normally do not question anyone’s good faith, just their good judgment, when I criticize.

        But when I perceive clues or threads leading in the direction of an agenda, rather than just information, I do say so.

        I am not sure that is a matter of good faith, just reality, just the human condition.

        Of course, I can be, and likely often am, wrong, but sometimes, as in this piece of the Saker’s and in an earlier one I recall harping about Dmitry Medvedev (someone Putin has placed a lot of trust in, despite having a persona so different and perhaps less likable than his own) and still some others, I think it fair criticism to say one scents something a bit off.

        I certainly don’t mean to offend, but I do exercise the free speech and critical thinking so completely missing from our corporate press. One hopes always to find them embraced in the alternative press, at least in parts of it, many parts of it being not so very different than the corporate press.

        And, of course, we have security services playing games with the Internet, just as they did with magazines in the 1960s, and still do. There is at least a small list of alternative sites whose material seems to be assembled in Langley, Virginia.

        I should say that I think you’ve done a terrific job with your new site. It truly is worth looking at every day. There is a host of sites I could not say that of, some much more widely known.

        Thanks for the effort. It shows.

    2. Marko Marjanović says

      The pollster has been asking this same question in the same format for many years so it has some value. In fact apparently they do this every week, quite possibly because it’s known the Russian gov’t itself pays close attention to polls and wants that kind of data.

      Also I’ve just learned it’s posed as an open-ended question so the score for Lavrov and Shoigu is even more significant than I thought (1 in 6 will think of Shoigu as someone they would trust with a solution to a state issue without being prompted.):

      “On the question “We all trust one people, not the other. And if we talk about politicians, whom do you trust, and who would you not trust the solution of important state issues? ”(Open-ended question, any number of answers)”


  3. thomas malthaus says

    Aside from US -imposed sanctions, oligarchs have left the country while under suspicion of not playing the game (paying bribes).

    Aside from pension reform, this seems the greatest single issue preventing Russia’s turnaround: rule of law, followed by removal of widespread corruption.

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