The latest poll from Levada, Russia’s most trustworthy pollster, on the Moscow mayoral election came out on September 1 (Russian-language link). The results are devastatingly bad for Alexei Navalny.
Levada predicts that incumbent Mayor Sergei Sobyanin will win in a landslide. Levada’s data indicate that Sobyanin will finish with nearly 60% of the vote, three times more than Navalny will receive. Not only won’t Navalny win, he won’t come close to even forcing Sobyanin into a runoff.
While Levada indicates that Navalny will collect 18% of the vote, it shows that this only amounts to 10% of all Moscow voters (Levada indicates that only about 60% of voters will go to the polls at most, and that only 20% of voters are paying close attention to the race), and Navalny’s negatives are much higher than his positives: a whopping 23% of respondents say Navalny is the one candidate they definitely would not vote for. Navalny’s negatives are roughly 50% higher than any other candidate in the race.
Navalny’s puny total of 18% is trailed closely by the Communist candidate, who is garnering 12% support.
But the worst news of all for Navalny is that the Moscow mayoral election may well be the fairest in all of Russian history, and it will be virtually impossible to attack it as being unfair. The only gripe Navalny could have would be his somewhat restricted access to TV, but the Kremlin did allow him to participate in debates that were televised citywide and Navalny himself has touted his mastery of the Internet, to which the vast majority of Moscow voters have access.
Putin launched a brutal tirade against Navalny on state TV, clearly seeking to rub salt in Navalny’s wounds and jeer at him, as he did at Khodorkovsky. It’s doubtful Putin has the courage, however, to let Navalny answer him on the same program as basic fairness would dictate.
This election is shaping up to strike a fatal blow to Navalny. It appears that he will be exposed as extremely weak even his his greatest bastion of strength, Moscow, and that his claim to any national power base is totally illusory. When he’s packed off to jail for many years after the election, it will be impossible for him to claim his imprisonment is politically motivated. “Why should the Kremlin need to jail someone who has no chance of winning power?” it will argue.