How can a president who seems to do so many things wrong and spends so much time running around on vacation surge to all time highs in popularity? Some of you look a little confused, so allow me to reassure you… I’m not talking about Barack Obama. This story is about Russian leader Vladimir Putin. As our good friend (and Prince of Twitter) Andrew Malcolm notes, Putin is more popular than ever in his home country, at least according to a major polling outfit.
As Obama wallows in the low 40’s in overall job approval among Americans, with even lower ratings in specific areas, Putin has just scored nearly twice that — 83% approval. The new Gallup survey finds that, as Russians historically do, they really like Putin’s strong leadership and admire his successes in simply annexing Crimea this spring and staging a successful Olympics.
Putin’s approval is up a whopping 29 points since last year, attributed to a greater sense of national pride and improvement in the Russian economy, despite ineffective sanctions by the United States and European Union over Putin’s disruptive involvement in next-door Ukraine…
Putin, who just returned from a successful week-long diplomatic foray into Obama’s geographic backyard in South America, has convinced 73% of Russians that their country is headed in the right direction. You may remember previously Putin out-maneuvered Obama over the American’s empty red-line threat about Syria’s use of chemical weapons in its civil war.
Of course, these polling samples were gathered before the recent plane shooting unpleasantness, but will that really drag down Putin’s numbers at home? Frankly, I doubt it for a couple of different reasons. First of all, Russia keeps a pretty tight lid on the media and how they portray the government in general and Putin in particular. (This is in marked contrast to the United States, where our media is free to speak glowingly of Democratic administrations of their own volition.) Pretty much all the things Putin is doing, particularly when he jabs a finger in the eye of the west, may well be taken by their citizens as a sign of strength, reminiscent of their glory days as a global superpower.
Also, no matter how they may truly feel, it’s still somewhat dangerous to be to openly critical of Putin for those still living in Russia. How much would they trust that nobody was listening in on the call when Gallup rings them up and interrupts their dinner? Why of course I think Vlad is doing a marvelous job! Did you get that clearly? I said marvelous. No objections here! With that caveat in mind, I don’t find any polling coming out of Russia on subjects such as this to be automatically as pristine as the driven snow.
But Putin’s still got better numbers than Obama to brag about over dinner. And that’s not just chopped sausage.