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With Popularity Fading, United Russia Tries To Get Sexy

Workers post a United Russia campaign banner for the State Duma elections in Moscow.

Workers post a United Russia campaign banner for the State Duma elections in Moscow.

Amidst rapidly declining poll numbers, the ruling United Russia party has released a steamy online video designed to win the support of younger voters.

The spot, titled "Let's Do It Together," shows an attractive woman entering a polling station where a young man attempts to flirt with her. After the man holds open the curtain to the voting booth for her, the woman pulls him into the booth. Seconds later, the two emerge disheveled and smiling as they cast their ballots together.


The video was released as a poll by the independent Levada Center showed United Russia's rating drop nine points in just one week -- from 60 percent to 51 percent.

The same poll, conducted from October 28-November 1, shows President Dmitry Medvedev's approval rating falling to 57 percent from 62 percent the previous week. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's rating also fell 5 percent in a week, to 61 percent.

As this blog has taken pains to point out in the past, public opinion polls in Russia should usually be taken with a grain of salt. But sometimes it makes sense to pay attention and I think this is one of those times.

While the Levada Center poll got the most media attention this week, the survey that really got my attention was an internal one conducted for the Kremlin, which was leaked to

That poll, according to the report, showed a startling number of regional leaders -- many of whom will be leading United Russia's regional party lists in the December State Duma elections -- with approval ratings below 20 percent.

Here is a list of some of Russia's least popular regional leaders:

Andrei Nelidov (Karelia) -- 11 percent
Pavel Ipatov (Saratov) -- 14 percent
Oleg Bogomolov (Kurgan) -- 15 percent
Anatoly Brovko (Volgograd) -- 15 percent
Ilya Mikhalchuk (Arkhangelsk) -- 16 percent
Aleksandr Mikhailov (Kursk) -- 17 percent

That poll follows another internal Kremlin poll, also leaked to, that showed United Russia's numbers dangerously under water in several key regions, including Moscow (29 percent), St. Petersburg (31 percent) and Kaliningrad Oblast (27 percent).

Will all this matter in the end? Probably not. The governors may be unpopular, but they have massive administrative and bureaucratic resources at their disposal to get out the vote for United Russia.

In a commentary in, Gleb Cherkasov writes that while the ruling party may not match the massive victory it won in the 2007 elections this December, it will still hold a clear majority in the Duma. And Putin, he adds, is virtually assured election in March, despite his falling numbers.

But, Cherkasov adds, during his second stint in the Kremlin, Putin will be hard pressed to return to the lofty heights of popularity he once enjoyed:

The ratings of Vladimir Putin and all those professionally associated with him are falling. This is still nothing like a collapse but is increasingly suggestive of a trend. Those who dislike the regime see this fact as pleasing evidence of the growth of opposition sentiments, while Putin's supporters demonstratively disbelieve the polls and feel that he will achieve his usual hefty victory.

This is a rare occasion when both sides are right. The elections will indeed be successful: Even if the December phase proves not to be overly encouraging for the regime, in March all the figures will fall into place. It is possible that poor autumn figures will be absolutely overshadowed by the results of the spring vote. That said, Vladimir Putin's popularity is indeed declining, will be quite hard to get his rating back to its traditional place.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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