- Poll of Polls
There have been three nationwide polls since the campaign official began. I have merged the results of the three into a single poll using the data on weighted basis. For example, if candidate X has 10% in a poll with a survey size of 2000, X has 15% in a poll with a survey size of 3000 and X has 20% in a poll with a survey size of 5000 then the blended average of support is 16.5% (.1 x 2000 = 2.00%; .15 x 3000 = 4.50% & .2 x 5000 = 10% (2+4.5+10) =16.5). Thus the data comes from the following polls:
- The Rating Group and Razumkov Center joint poll from March 25 to April 2 with a sample size of 3000+.
- International Republican Institute poll from April 3-12 with field work conducted by the Rating Group and sample size of 1000+.
- The joint Socis Center, Kyiv International Sociology Service (KISS), Razumkov Center and Rating Group poll with a sample size of 6000+ from April 9-16.
|Candidate||Rating/Razumkov||IRI||Socis, Rating, KISS, Razumkov||Average|
Thus, we can draw some conclusions:
- Poroshenko has a chance to win without a runoff on May 25 as his support is hovering just under the necessary “50% plus 1 vote” to win outright.
- Regions Party’s votes are split among Tyhypko, Dobkin, Symonenko and importantly – Poroshenko. The base pro-Russian vote in Ukraine is 46% (without Crimea) and so far Tyhypko, Dobkin, Symonenko and Tsariov combined have just under 20% of that vote. Poroshenko is receiving strong support from the business community formerly a part of the Party of Regions/pro-Russian electorate. These voters are the “go along to get along” businessmen who sense Poroshenko will win and want to “get in early” with the new president.
- Dobkin must quickly find a way to up his polls numbers in the next two weeks or the race is over for him and the base vote of the Party of Regions will be shattered. He is campaigning on the “United Country” theme which is hardly the message the pro-Russian electorate wants to hear. The attempt on Kernes’ life (his close political ally) may be the spark Dobkin needs to move up in the polls but that remains to be seen.
- Due to Dobkin’s doldrums, Symonenko has a chance to connect with the pro-Russian electorate with old style Communist themes. His party got 13% of the vote in 2012 and he could double his current support to that level which would further erode the formerly solid base of support for the Party of Regions.
- Tyhypko’s rating rose dramatically in the last month of the campaign in 2010 so he may be keeping “his powder dry” until early May. If he unleashes his financial resources, he can return to at least the 15% he received last time. In doing so, he may be able to prevent Poroshenko from winning without a runoff.
- The other technically pro-EU candidates (Hritsenko, Lyashko, Bohomolets, Tyahnybok, Yarosh and Korolevska) receive a combined 16.6% of the vote vs. Tymoshenko’s 15.6%. This is bad news for Tymoshenko because even if they all dropped out and supported her, she would still trail Poroshenko 32.2% – 44.9% (minus 12.7%).
- The base pro-EU vote in Ukraine is 54% which means that if 16.6% are supporting various pro-EU candidates and 15.6% is supporting Tymoshenko (for a total of 32.2%) then around 22% of Poroshenko’s votes are pro-EU votes. The other 22% (for his total of 44.9%) are coming from the pro-Russian electorate.
- For Tymoshenko to win, she will have to drive a wedge between Poroshenko and the pro-EU electorate (or have a pro-EU surrogate like Tyahnybok or Yarosh do it) by attacking him as not sufficiently pro-Euromaidan. Simultaneously, she needs to hope for a consolidation of pro-Russian votes behind either Tyhypko or Dobkin.
We will see what polls from the last two weeks of field work show as we enter the May holidays. The situation remains volatile so the numbers can move quickly. At this point, I predict a Poroshenko victory although it may take a runoff to accomplish it.
- Chance of Invasion Lessened Until May 9
Last week saw the most fearsome rhetoric from the Kremlin since the Andropov era. Yet despite signs to the contrary, the Russian army did not invade Ukraine. It appears that there are several factors: 1) Russia is still digesting Crimea economically and politically; 2) Russia is testing their technologies and the response to their actions by both Ukraine and the West; 3) Destabilization of Ukraine and disruption of the May 25 Presidential Election remain the short term goals of the Kremlin.
Expect the tit for tat of – separatists seizing buildings only to be removed shortly thereafter by Ukrainian security forces- to continue over the next ten days. The key date to watch is May 9, Victory Day in World War II. Multiple provocations have been planned throughout Ukraine with the goal of Russia being able to label Ukraine as “fascist”. This will play out most likely in the appearance of a WWII veteran being killed, attacked, injured by a nationalist or Right Sector member. This will give Russia further reason to meddle in Ukraine’s affairs and possible invade if not at least disrupt the presidential election.
The landscape has moved from opposition to a referendum in the regions on national unity to a discussion on when such a referendum could be conducted. Buoyed by polling that shows every oblast/region (even Donetsk and Luhansk) opposed to joining Russia, the Ukrainian government is now willing to organize a public vote to show the world (and specifically Russia) that Ukraine is united. The key is that the voting must be administered legally under Ukrainian law and by Ukrainian authorities – not by separatists whose laws are written on a spiral notebook. In addition, Kyiv knows that the separatists lack the administrative resources to conduct an even remotely legitimate election. Currently they could not attract more than a few thousand voters (out of millions) for their much ballyhooed May 11 referendum on independence. Thus, Donetsk Governor Taruta and President Turchynov are promoting a referendum in conjunction with the May 25 presidential election. By doing the referendum on this day, it guarantees that the voters will strongly reject Russia and have the added benefit of further legitimizing the presidential election (something Russia is trying to undermine). Tymoshenko’s campaign manager, Igor Zhdanov is pushing for June 15. Parliament is expected to debate the issue and possible decide the matter today.