A pair of recent polls by Levada, Russia’s most-respected polling company, pours icy cold water on the political fantasies involving Alexei Navalny.
The news these polls deliver to Navalny is relentlessly, brutally bad.
The polls reveal that at most less than a third of Russians know who Navalny is. The one bit of good news is that among those in that tiny group the overwhelming majority, 67%, believe the charges against him in Kirov are politically motivated. But that means that less than 15% of the Russian population agrees with Navalny’s closing statement in court that he is being persecuted. The rest have no idea what he’s talking about.
Similarly, the polls show that a mere 5% of likely voters intend to cast their ballots for Navalny, roughly the same number as plan to vote for the Communist Party candidate Ivan Melnikov. A strong majority of 53%, by contrast, plans to support the incumbent mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Only 32% of respondents said they knew who candidate Navalny was, compared to 89% for Sobyanin.
The conclusion to be drawn from these polls is inescapable: Navalny has no chance of being elected Mayor of Moscow and no chance of causing a national scandal if sent to prison for many years. Most Russians simply don’t know who he is, and don’t care. The reason for that is simple: Navalny has focused exclusively on the Internet, which most Russians can’t access. He has failed to raise significant funds and failed to use them to reach out to the main part of Russia’s population.