24.10.22 Polls Review

"To Be a Man": polls show fairly high loyalty to the announced mobilisation despite gradual decline in the war support

Support for the war in public opinion polls is gradually decreasing. At the same time, the population shows a relatively high degree of loyalty to the declared mobilisation. However, it is mainly older men who demonstrate it, driven by a normative, masculine idea of "military duty". In addition, the polls revealing this attitude towards mobilisation were conducted straight after its announcement and probably did not yet reflect the population's reaction to the administrative chaos accompanying it. At the same time, the number of respondents in favor of peace negotiations and the end of the war continues to grow, and this trend, according to our forecasts, will only increase soon.

Russian Field and "Chronicles", two independent projects that conducted opinion polls during the war, have published data from two new waves of surveys taken immediately after the announcement of "partial mobilisation". A gradual downward trend in support for the war can be seen in the "projective" "Russian Field"s survey (the question "If you had the opportunity to go back in time, would you cancel the decision to begin the operation on the territory of Ukraine?"). The proportion of those who would not change the decision to begin the war, that is, those who are convinced of the arguments in favor of starting it, decreased from 57% in March and 55% in July to 51% at the end of September (we wrote earlier about the "projective" question and the eight previous waves of the Russian Field polls in more detail). The number of supporters of peace negotiations is also growing: in July, a little more than half of the respondents were in favor of continuing the war, now — 46%, correspondingly 38% were in favor of peace negotiations in July, now there are 44% of those surveyed. The Levada-Center polls show a similar trend, but the proportion of peace negotiations supporters is even higher: it increased from 44% in August to 48% in September.

Dynamics of support for a "special military operation," according to polls by Russian Field, Project "Chronicles" , and the Levada Center, % of respondents

The level of support for the war in the polls by Project "Chronicles" is traditionally lower than those by Russian Field and Levada-Center. It dropped to 51% at the end of September. At the same time (somewhat paradoxically), both surveys have recorded a very high level of support for the announced mobilisation. According to Russian Field, 37% definitely and 27% rather support mobilisation, and only 31% do not.

According to the "Chronicles", 51% of respondents in the first wave of the survey (immediately after announced mobilisation) and 54% in the second, a week later, declared their support for it. The "Chronicles" polling data also show that the likelihood of being mobilised didn't become a factor in its negative evaluation. Elena Koneva, who analyzes the results of the "Chronicles" polls, writes that "if a respondent himself, in his opinion, falls under mobilisation, he is more likely to support it — 66% versus 52% in general among the population. Perhaps, there is a difference in the level of men's and women's support for the mobilisation, which seems very significant in the "Chronicles" data.

In any case, the readiness to mobilise is perceived by respondents, at least by men, as a social norm. However, this applies more to the older age groups. According to the "Chronicles", support for the mobilisation among respondents aged 55+ is twice as high as among younger respondents (18-34 years old): 70% versus 34%. The results of the Russian Field survey are similar. At the same time, when asked if most of their relatives and friends would come to the military registration and enlistment office, 77% answered positively, and even among those who would cancel the "special operation" if they could, there were 61% of such respondents.

Despite this, indirect questions still indicate a decline in support for the war. For example, in the Russian Field survey, respondents are asked whether they would support Vladimir Putin's decision to launch a new offensive against Kyiv or the decision to end the "military operation". Paradoxically, in the previous poll, an approximately equal proportion of respondents (about 65%) supported both alternatives. The September survey demonstrates a particular dynamic in this regard: now, 60% of respondents are ready to support an attack on Kyiv, and 75% of those surveyed are ready to stop the "special military operation".

The results of both sociological projects indicate that the war and mobilisation supporters are mostly wealthier citizens. This seems surprising given traditional political science views on the support of authoritarian regimes. According to The "Chronicles", 65 % of respondents with high and 45 % with low incomes leaned toward mobilisation (in the Russia Field's poll, the ratio was 70 % versus 55 %).

Overall, we can say that, despite the gradual decrease in war support, the population, in general, demonstrates relatively high loyalty to mobilisation, provided, however, mainly by the normative, masculine idea of "military duty", which is more common among older men. Meanwhile, the most pronounced anti-war group is young women, Elena Koneva notes. Yet all of these surveys were conducted immediately after the mobilisation announcement, even before information about the administrative chaos that came with it had filled the media and social networks. So we can expect a decrease in this loyalty in the future. In addition, the proportion of people who support ending the war by "legitimate" means (peaceful negotiations, a decision from above) is growing. We believe mobilisation will only strengthen this trend soon.