Turnout might be much lower than even the record low (60%) than I posited.
Leonid Bershidsky in a recent article:
There are indications that turnout could be lower than ever. Levada Center predicted 52 to 54 percent in December, and the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, a respected independent think tank, came out with a 52 percent forecast earlier this month, putting expected turnout in Moscow and St. Petersburg well below 40 percent. That would be a disaster for the Kremlin: Even the 2004 election, the most boring in history since not a single political heavyweight dared run against Putin, drew 64.3 percent of registered voters.
Campaigning from Putin has been lackluster to say the least.
Main development is that the campaign website has finally been launched ( http://putin2018.ru/ ). At the time Bershidsky wrote his post, it didn’t even have a program.
That has since been remedied, though the “program” as such consists of a dozen random sound bites (fully open the Crimea bridge at the end of the year; regulate cryptocurrencies; create a network of educational centers for gifted children).
A couple of new polls since my last update.
1. First FOM poll to include Pavel Grudinin (KPRF) gives him 6.2%, translating to around 7.6% adjusting for undecideds, spoiled ballots, etc.
Other candidates: Putin – 65.9%, Zhirinovsky – 6.0%, Sobchak – 1.5%. (The others probably won’t be registered).
FOM is also great in that it usually gives considerably demographic detail [xls].
a) Reinforces a point I have often made that Communists are dying out, while nationalists are gaining, as is the pattern in much of the rest of the world. Zhirinovsky gets 2% amongst boomers, but 9% amongst the 18-45 year olds; Grudinin gets 7% amongst the boomers, but only 2% amongst the 18-30 year olds.
b) Women are 73% for Putin, vs. 57% of men, while Grudinin and Zhirinovsky are both about twice as popular amongst men as women. As I said: Female political conformism.
c) US-based pro-Western elections analyst Alexander Kireev notes that Grudinin is performing really well relative to the elections in 2004, the only other election in the age of Putin when the KPRF fielded someone who was not Zyuganov. In the first FOM poll in 2004, Kharitonov got a mere 1.5%, but went on to get 13.7% of the vote (15% adjusting for fraud).
Considering that 69% of Russians still haven’t heard of Grudinin – a pretty lame affair, considering he is now the second place candidate in the polling for an election that is a mere two months away – there is room of him to grow further.
However, I would caution against projecting some sort of exponential trendline:
i) The Communist electorate has been inexorably reduced by the demographic grindstone – it is smaller today than in 2004.
ii) Whereas 69% of Russians were hearing about Grudinin for the first time in this poll, it was only 36% amongst Communist voters.
It was LDPR (72%) and United Russia (78%) voters who were most ignorant about him.
According to this poll, some 53% of Communist voters and 38% of Fair Russia voters say they will consider voting for Grudinin, versus only 15% of LDPR voters and 9% of United Russia voters.
Consequently, it is likely that the majority of his core electorate already knows about him.
2. That this is so is suggested by a new VCIOM poll.
According to them, Grudinin actually peaked on Jan 10, when 7.2% of Russians said they’d vote for Grudinin if elections were held on the nearest Sunday (or 7.6% amongst the firmly decided) versus 4.7% for Zhirinovsky (or 4.2% amongst the firmly decided).
However, as of this poll Jan 15, Grudinin and Zhirinovsky had both converged to 6.1%.