The Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) released results from a new poll this week (link in Ukrainian).

They talked to 2,040 people between September 16 and 26, 2016 across Ukraine except for a) Crimea and b) areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts not controlled by the Ukrainian government (i.e., the useless-passport-offering “LNR”/”DNR”).

KIIS’ key findings, in brief:

  • Over the past six months support for Batkivshchyna has declined slightly, while support for Bloc Petro Poroshenko has increased slightly.
  • Support for the Opposition Bloc, Samopomich, Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party and Hromadyanska Posytsia has remained largely the same.

KIIS’ data over time is below. If you have some moral objection to the quality of my jpeg you can go look at the original link.

party-ratings-over-time

Keep in mind this table above only includes Ukrainians who a) said they’d vote and b) knew who they were going to vote for – which is only 41% of people who actually took part in the survey. The table below includes regional breakdowns as well as figures for non-voters, undecided voters and those pesky ballot spoilers (though no Ukrainian Edible Ballot Society yet).

A few thoughts and speculations of mine from across the sea. Comments and whatnot welcome.

What of Batkivshchyna and Bloc Petro Poroshenko?

The numbers for Batkivshchyna and Bloc Petro Poroshenko in this poll are a bit different from Rating’s poll that I talked about in August, despite fieldwork only being about a month apart.

  • Batkivshchyna’s 15.4% here versus 18.3% in Rating’s poll (2.9% difference)
  • Bloc Petro Poroshenko’s 14.5% here versus 9.1% in Rating’s poll (5.4% difference)

The other parties over 5% here (Opposition Bloc, Samopomich, Radical Party and Hromadyanska Posytsia) are largely the same. As for Za Zhyttia I’ve just learned they came out of the Opposition Bloc in May.

But why the difference for Batkivshchyna/Bloc Petro Poroshenko? The “difficult to answer” might have something to do with this – 31.1% (!!) of people in this poll said they didn’t know who they were going to vote for, compared to 16.3% in Rating’s poll. (I go on at length about this below)

That’s….a big difference, so big it makes me think something’s up methodologically here. Are interviewers from these different firms following up with people who immediately respond “don’t know” in the same way? For example, are Rating’s interviewers prompted by their script to ask again, which leads some of those “don’t knows” to respond with a party whose name they know – which could often be Batkivshvchyna? Are KIIS’s prompted to do the opposite, to accept the “don’t know” answer without prompting for a different answer? I know from experience that the way interviewers are led and trained to follow up with respondents can make a difference.

I’m purely speculating – and I’m not saying either one of these is right or wrong – but to see that big a difference between two different polls by different firms using the same method (in-person interviewing) makes me think it could be down to something like this.

Of course, another explanation could be that the apparent increase for Bloc Petro Poroshenko and the apparent decline of Batkivshchyna are reflective of an actual, significant change in what people think over the course of a month. I doubt this.

Anyone know?

Region, region, region

No Ukrainian political party (as I understand it) has ever really been able to capture significant, meaningful support from all parts of the country. That doesn’t look like it’s about to change.

Parties like the PoR-remnant Opposition Bloc pick up almost all their support in southern and eastern Ukraine, while Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyi’s Samopomich, not surprisingly, gets most of its support in western Ukraine. Even the two ‘big’ parties of Batkivshchyna and Bloc Petro Poroshenko can’t pull in consistent support across Ukraine, as you can see below in the absolute most cluttered PoS chart you’ll ever see.

party-region-v2
“Your chart sucks.” -You, just now.

When the bottom of the table’s more interesting than the top

I’m most interested in what’s going on down here in the relegation zone, which I haven’t bothered to translate because I’m a) too lazy and b) if you’re reading this you’re probably Ukrainian/speak at least some Ukrainian and can read it better than me anyways.

First, the 5.8% of people who said they’d vote ‘against all’ or spoil the ballot. That’s high, even just for a poll; by way of comparison, in that debacle of a Hungarian referendum last week 4% of voters spoiled their ballot in protest, a figure I still can’t get over.

Second, the 22.3% of people who said they wouldn’t take part in voting. I don’t have much to say about this – I don’t actually think that’s a remarkably high or low number, though the difference from west to east (17% compared to 28%) is worth noting. Is this down to more western Ukrainians heading their own more recognizable parties (e.g., Sadovyi, Lyashko, Hrytsenko, Tyahnybok), or is it a matter of different regional political cultures and attitudes towards democracy and (non) voting showing through? Both?

Lastly, the 31.1% of people who said “difficult to say” (don’t know, basically). As someone schooled in the arcana of Canadian, British and American electoral politics I have to admit I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around the idea of almost a third of people not sure who they’re going to vote for.

This 31.1% figure says more to me about Ukrainian party politics and the state of Ukrainian democracy than any other figure here. No party, whether small, not-as-small or in-theory-biggest, seems able to capture the interest and imagination of post-Maidan Ukraine at all. To quote Sonic Youth, fragmentation is (still) the rule.

Postscript

I’ve got my hands on the most recent KIIS Omnibus data (that’s publicly available – from May 2016). Been running some numbers. Will have some reasonably interesting analysis of my own in a few days.

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