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Russians Happier With Putin Than With Country's Direction

Russians Happier With Putin Than With Country's Direction

by Julie Ray and Neli Esipova

Story Highlights

  • 80% of Russians approve of Putin's leadership
  • 52% believe country's leadership is taking them in right direction
  • 60% approve of job performance of country's leadership

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Russians' support of President Vladimir Putin looks unshakable ahead of his bid for re-election in March 2018, with his approval ratings at a buoyant 80% in 2017. But underneath, Russians are less sure about whether their country's leadership is taking them in the right direction.

While not the lowest on record, the 52% of Russians who believe their country's leadership is taking them in the right direction is the lowest in years, and it suggests that Russians continue to hold their country's leader to a different standard than they do their country's leadership in general.

Russians Approve of Putin, Less Sure of Country's Leadership

Putin ended speculation Wednesday about whether he would run for president again. If he wins again, he will be in office until 2024, enshrining his status as the longest-serving leader of Russia since Joseph Stalin. Putin has been in office, as either president or prime minister, since 2000.

Based on his recent approval ratings, Putin's record is likely secure. Russians' support for their president remains undiminished from the high ratings they have given him since Crimea became part of Russia in 2014. His personal brand since then has been immune to any challenges on the domestic and international fronts, including plunging oil prices, years of recession and Western sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

The country's leadership in general has not been as invulnerable -- and may, in fact, be absorbing most of the blame for the country's recent economic troubles. Although it rallied to a record-high 73% in 2014, the percentage of Russians who believe their leadership is taking them in the right direction has continued to fall. The percentage who say leadership is heading in the wrong direction doubled (from 11% to 22%) in that same period.

Russians' approval ratings of the job performance of the country's leadership more generally, while still at a majority level, have also faltered. After soaring as high as 65% in 2015, Russians' approval has edged down to 60% -- still far lower than Putin's approval rating.

Russians' Approval of Country's Leadership Declines

Gallup Analytics
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Bottom Line

Riding a groundswell of national pride after Crimea, the situation in Ukraine and the Sochi Olympics, Putin's approval ratings and Russians' faith in their country's leadership soared in 2014. Positivity colored nearly all aspects of Russians' lives that year -- even as oil prices and the ruble collapsed.

The rally appears to have been short-lived in many regards. Russians' ratings of their lives have inched downward each subsequent year and they are increasingly finding it difficult to get by on their current incomes.

Russians' faith in their country's leadership in general has also waned. But the rising uncertainty among Russians about their country's leadership will likely have little effect, if any, on who they choose to lead it.

Survey Methods

These results are based on face-to-face interviews with 2,000 adults in Russia, aged 15 and older, conducted June 9-Aug. 20, 2017. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2.5 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

People living in remote or difficult-to-access areas in the Far North, North Caucasus and Far East (Nenets autonomous region, Yamalo-Nenets autonomous region, Chukotsk region) were excluded. The excluded areas represent about 20% of the population.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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