Russia’s Medvedev has 70 pct support: opinion poll

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s anointed successor, Dmitry Medvedev, has the support of 70.4 percent of the voters and will easily win the presidential election in 10 days’ time, a poll on Thursday said.

Strongly backed by the Kremlin and state-controlled media Medvedev, who is first deputy prime minister, leads his nearest challenger by a huge margin, pollster VTsIOM said.

Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky is Medvedev’s nearest rival with 10.7 percent support followed by Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov at 10.3 percent, state-controlled VTsIOM said.

Putin endorsed Medvedev in December and the candidate’s popularity has risen steadily since.

Medvedev has pledged to appoint Putin prime minister if he wins the March 2 vote. Putin is serving out his second term and is constitutionally barred from running again.

Analyzing data from past elections and past voter behavior, VTsIOM also published a forecast of the likely outcome, the main guide used by the Russian media in its reporting.

It predicted Medvedev would win 72.9 percent of the vote, Zyuganov 15 percent and Zhirinovsky 10.9 percent.

“It was very clear from the start that the candidates were searching for the undecided vote, which was more than a quarter of the electorate, and Medvedev has now got it,” said VTsIOM spokeswoman Olga Komentyuk.

Apart from Putin’s backing and his appeal for stability, Medvedev’s strong emphasis on social programs was a key factor in winning over undecided voters, Komentyuk said.

In a December poll conducted just after Putin’s endorsement, Medvedev garnered 45 percent of committed voters. In the most recent survey, undecided voters made up 7.7 percent of the respondents.

“What Russians want to avoid is the chaos and complications of the 1990s — Medvedev offers a continuity with the stability they feel Putin has provided,” said Komentyuk.

VTsIOM said 83 percent of those questioned said they would vote but it forecast actual turnout at around 69.7 percent.

The poll is VTsIOM’s final published pre-election survey and was conducted on February 16-17 among 1,600 Russian citizens in 46 regions around the country. Its reported statistical margin of error is 3.4 percent.

A forecast published by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) came to similar conclusions.

Based upon committed voters only, FOM said Medvedev will get 67.8 percent, Zyuganov 16.3 percent and Zhirinovsky 13.7 percent.

FOM polled 3,000 voters at 63 centers across Russia between Feb 16-17 and gave a 2.5 percent margin of error.


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