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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

Tags: Vladimir Putin,United Russia,2011 State Duma elections,Dmitry Medvedev

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ossetians from:
November 10, 2011 04:59
Yeah, and forget the 2008_South_Ossetia_war. That's very smart!
And then we'll see the Nazi Party making the headlines.
And that video makes me sick.
Just do your job and that's good enough.

by: Joe
November 10, 2011 11:54
Excerpted from the above blog post title: "tries to get sexy"? (sic)

That video and some (stress some) of the United Russia member are far more sexier than the individuals that this blog and RFE/RL at large generally promote.
In Response

by: eli from: freedonia
November 10, 2011 15:23
geez, Averko, you really told them there!

like too many of your comments, all you can say is "RFE is stupid," but in your usual leaden prose, pompously trying to sound authoritative.

others manage to actually call them out for their coverage or reporting, but you just say they're biased. wow, good job. nice argument. just another knee-jerk Super Slav, defending the glorious orthodox flag. you're your own worst enemy.
In Response

by: Joe
November 11, 2011 18:12
Quite a perverse obsession you've over one person.

Your ironic blather doesn't come close to refuting anything I said.

In Response

by: Asehpe from: Netherlands
November 14, 2011 07:46
Nor does your own blather, Joe. How can one disprove that which wasn't proved to start with -- since all you did was make a claim? If you write that the moon is made of green cheese, there won't be any "proof that you're wrong" either. All one can do is say that this is not true.
In Response

by: Joe
November 14, 2011 12:28
You further substantiate my point Asehpe.

Your comment about the moon better applies to what you stated.
In Response

by: Asehpe from: Netherlands
November 18, 2011 19:34
Joe: how do I substatiate your point?

Seems to me I attack it.
In Response

by: Stig from: Sweden
December 04, 2011 14:54
So, what, "Joe"? What exactly are you trying to say? You don't like RFE/RL? Then why the f are you even here writing comments? You do make yourself look foolish.

Sorry, whoever you are, but that's the way it is.

by: Mark from: Victoria
November 14, 2011 04:04
Yes, come on, United Russia!!! Get with the program!! A few moments of observing real democracy in action, and you'd know that going deeply negative right out of the gate is the way to campaign. Something like, "My opponent, unfortunately, wants to raise your taxes so he can spend more on prostitutes and 5-star holidays, and will make your children walk to school with holes in their shoes" That's the way to do it!! Sex? Lame.

Oh, news sources from outside the country will shriek that you're spreading lies about honest people, that your accusations are fabricated and that you're cheapening and degrading the democratic process. Real democracies do not pay any attention at all to such criticism. Let them eat cake, as Marie Antoinette is supposed to have said.

If you ever expect to be a free-market democracy, you'd be well-advised to study how the professionals do it. Watch, and learn.

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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