Putin's approval rating up to 85% in November, Russians happy with the country's direction

Putin's approval rating up to 85% in November, Russians happy with the country's direction
Putin's approval rating is up three points in November to 85% as Russians seem fairly happy with progress in the war and the quality of life despite the sanctions. / bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews December 3, 2023

According to the latest polls from the Levada Centre, Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval rating rose three percentage points in November to 85%, and disapproval slid down two points to 13%.

Separately, another poll conducted by the state-controlled Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) reported a small decline in Russians' trust of Putin: 78.5% of participants expressed their trust in President Putin, marking a minimal decrease of 0.1 percentage points compared to the previous poll. Additionally, the approval rating for President Putin's job performance showed a slight dip, with 75.2% of respondents indicating their approval, representing a 0.2 percentage point decrease.

Putin is benefiting from the failure of Ukraine to make any progress with its counter-offensive this summer and rising incomes in both nominal and real terms thanks to a tight labour market.

At the same time, the heavy state spending on defence has given the economy a shot in the arm, which is running well ahead of potential.

These positive results are also seen in things such as retail turnover, which is also up in November, and the PMI manufacturing index is still in expansion mode, well above the 50 no-change mark, while unemployment is at a historic low of 3%.

The good news is also reflected in the “is the country going in the right/wrong direction”  question, where “right” ticked up 3 percentage points as well to 67%, while “wrong” remained flat at 21%, as more people shifted from “don’t know” to “right”.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has also seen his credibility rise to 72% in November from 68%, while his disapproval rating remains flat at 21%.

Mishustin has made steady gains since he took office in 2017 with an approval rating of 53% that rapidly fell to a low of 31% in the summer of 2018 and remained under 40% for the next year. But after a four-year recession ended that year and since the start of the war, Mishustin has shown himself to be a competent administrator and has increasingly won over the population for maintaining the standard of living in Russia.

The government has also seen its approval tick up two points to 69%, which is not much of a difference from where it has been for the last year. Even the Duma, one of the most disliked institutions in Russia, has seen its approval rise to 61% with a 33% disapproval rating. The approval/disapproval of the Duma is usually balanced, and often with disapproval outweighing the two.

Regional governors retain their relative popularity with a 72% approval rating, down by two points from October. The governors have seen their approval rise from last year, when their polling numbers were mostly under 60%, but they have not managed to climb to the point where they were challenging Putin’s own popularity a few years ago.

Finally, the share of respondents who think that protests are possible with political demands remains a low 19% in September, well below the 29% recent peak in February on the eve of the start of the Ukrainian war. However, interestingly the figure for those that said they would participate in the demonstrations should they occur was 18% in September, on a par with every other poll for the last few years, suggesting there is a hard-core community of Russians that remain politically committed to opposition to the government, but which is relatively small in size.

The same poll asking whether there would be protests with economic demands, and if the respondent would participate should they happen, came in at 14% and 13% respectively, suggesting Russians are much less dissatisfied with the standard of living than their political freedoms.

VTsIOM also gauged public sentiment towards the Russian government and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Approximately 49.7% of those polled approved of the government's execution of its functions, experiencing a 1.1 percentage point decline. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mishustin's job performance maintained steady support, with 52.3% of respondents approving.

However, trust in Prime Minister Mishustin experienced a minor drop of 0.5 percentage points, with 61.1% of participants expressing their trust.

In terms of party leaders represented in Parliament, the results were as follows:

Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) leader Gennady Zyuganov garnered the trust of 32.1% of respondents, marking a 1.7 percentage point increase.

A Just Russia-For Truth party leader Sergey Mironov enjoyed the trust of 29.4% of those polled, experiencing a 0.6 percentage point rise.

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) head Leonid Slutsky received the trust of 17% of participants, encountering a minor decline of 0.2 percentage points.

New People party chairman Alexey Nechayev secured the trust of 7.8% of respondents, noting a 1 percentage point drop.

In terms of political party support:

The ruling United Russia party saw its popularity rise by 1.1 percentage points to 40.9%.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) experienced a 0.7 percentage point decrease, with its support standing at 9.2%.

The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) saw a 0.4 percentage point increase, with its support also at 9.2%.

A Just Russia-For Truth party witnessed a 0.5 percentage point decline in its popular support, reaching 4.4%.

Support for the New People party decreased by 0.4 percentage points, landing at 4.4%.