06.12.22 Polls Review

The War Is Stuck: the tension of mobilisation has diminished, supporters of peace negotiations remain in the majority, but a less overwhelming one

In the November poll of the Levada Center, almost all indicators of institutions and authorities assessments, as well as attitudes toward the war in Ukraine, "got stuck" at the previous month's figures. The tension caused by the mobilisation announcement at the end of September has significantly decreased, although it has not completely dissolved. Russians no longer expect the war to end soon (now 40% believe it will end within a year, against 48% in the previous survey), and the emotional background of its perception is worsening. The proportion of those who support the transition from military operations to peace negotiations has slightly decreased, due to the growth of militancy among men. At the same time, the negotiation supporters remain in the majority, and among the younger generations, women, and the poor, their number exceeds 60%.
The proportion of those who answered positively to the question about support for the "special operation" reached 74% at the end of November (in October it was 73%). In general, as we have already noted, the "Levada Center"'s figures for war support (72-77% range) are always noticeably higher than those from two other sociological projects measuring "pro-war" attitudes in Russia (Russian Field and the "Chronicles"). Perhaps the reason for this is that the "Levada Center" uses a door-to-door face-to-face polling method, while the other two projects collect data by phone. The "Chronicles" surveys show the lowest numbers (51-57% range) — this is most likely a result of allowing the respondents not only to say "I find it difficult to answer", but also to refuse to answer the question (for more on the "Chronicles" polls, see the article "Frustrations of a Special Operation"). As always, it is important to note that the results of surveys in the conditions of war and repression against dissent should be interpreted with caution: environmental pressures can influence the propensity of opposition-minded respondents to participate in them. 

Support for the "special operation" in opinion polls, February-November 2022, % of the number of respondents

In the latest "Levada-Center" survey, there is a slight decrease in the tension caused in society by the mobilisation announcement. The proportion of those who say they are "very" or "rather" concerned about the events in Ukraine, which amounted to 74% in August and jumped to 87% in September and October, reached 80% by the end of November (the usual figure for the first months of the war). Also, the percentage of those who believe that the military operations should be continued has slightly increased compared to October, and the percentage of those who think it is necessary to start peace negotiations has decreased (57% vs. 36% in October and 53% vs. 41% in November).

Supporters of peace talks remain in the majority, and in the younger age groups (18-39 years old) their share exceeds 60%. The gender axis of differences in this issue is no less significant: here the spread makes up over 20 percentage points. 51% of men and only 31% of women are in favor of continuing the war, and, respectively, 62% of women and 43% of men support peace negotiations. There was a certain increase in the number of those who support the continuation of hostilities in the male group. Another factor contributing to the militancy is financial prosperity: among those who "barely have enough to eat," 32% favor the continuation of military operations, and among those who can buy durable goods, 47% support the continuation of hostilities.

Back in September the proportion of those who consider the course of the "special operation" to be successful fell by 20 percentage points (to 54% from 73% in May), in November this figure remained almost the same. Also, the timing of the end of the war is "moving back" in the respondents' opinion: currently, 40% expect it to end within a year, while 41% expect it to happen somewhere beyond that term; in August this ratio was 48% against 31%.

The emotional background of the war is worsening. From time to time, respondents are asked about their feelings about the war in Ukraine. We group these "feelings" into four categories: positive emotions (satisfaction, elation), "pride for Russia," "unfocused anxiety" (depression, anxiety, shock), and "focused condemnation" ("anger, indignation, shame"). The percentage of respondents experiencing positive emotions has decreased from 15% to 10%, and the number of respondents feeling proud of Russia has decreased from 48% to 42%. The proportion of respondents characterized by focused condemnation remained unchanged — at 18% (respondents could give more than one answer, so the sum of answers exceeds 100%).

The same trends are observed in the October survey of the "Chronicles" project — a blurring of expectations for the war's end, adaptation to its prolonging, a worsening of the emotional background, and stabilisation in responses to the question about its support.

"How do you feel about Russia's military actions in Ukraine?", % of the number of respondents