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How United Russia stole victory

United Russia won 49.54% of the popular vote in this weekend’s Duma Election, which was just enough to secure it an overall majority in the Duma.

By and large, election observers felt that the ballot itself was run fairly across the country, BUT, there were a few ballots in which the results were just absurd. For example, in Chechnya, 93.31% of voters went to the polls (national average 60.2%) and 99.48% of voters chose United Russia (national average 49.54%).

Everyone knows that the result was fixed in Chechnya. It’s tempting to laugh this off as Chechnya being, well, Chechnya and to think that because it’s just a small part of Russia it doesn’t really impact on the election result. But then I noticed a few other abnormal results, and wondered what impact they had collectively on the election.

So, I decided to identify every region where United Russia took more than 80% of the vote, and turn that region into an entirely average region.

Here’s a list of all the regions where more than 80% of people voted for United Russia.

Chechnya – Turnout 93.31%, Voted for UR 99.48%
Mordovia – Turnout 90.58%, Voted for UR 91.62%
Dagestan – Turnout 78.64%, Voted for UR 91.44%
Ingushetia – Turnout 72.72%, Voted for UR 90.96%
Karachey-Cherkessia – Turnout 80.31%, Voted for UR 89.84%
Tuva – Turnout 70.68%, Voted for UR 85.29%
Kabardino-Balkaria – Turnout 90.91%, Voted for UR 81.91%

In total, 3.3 million people voted in these seven regions, and 3 million of them voted for United Russia. In total across the country, United Russia scored 32.8 million votes which means that these seven republics, representing less than 4% of the electorate, provided almost 10% of United Russia’s total votes.

United Russia secures 99.47% of the vote in Chechnya
So, now lets see what would happen if these seven republics were perfectly average. That is to say that they had a 60.2% turnout and 49.54% of people voted for United Russia.

If that happened, then only 1.4 million people would have voted for United Russia in these regions, bringing United Russia’s overall total down to 31.2 million nationally.

Which means that instead of getting 49.54% of the vote, United Russia would have got 47.12%.

Which I’m pretty sure isn’t enough for a majority in the Duma.

And, if replicated, might be the difference between a first round victory for Putin and being forced into a second round runoff in the 2012 Russian Presidential election.

Just sayin.

[sws_blue_box box_size=”600″] Note:
Here’s an excel spreadsheet with my (very rough) calculations.
Data about turnout and percentage voting for UR came from this page
Data about the size of electorate (from July 2011, so slightly off I know) came from the Central Election Commission.
I know some of the workings are rough, and based on slightly out-dated figures. But it’s not going to be off by much. Think of the numbers as being illustrative if that helps!


  • That sounds like a fair calculation, though perhaps a bit too pessimistic. I doubt the Caucasus will correlate to the average. They are conservative Muslims (so Commies won’t do well), and they’re certainly not going to be voting LDPR.

    I think that United Russia would have dominated there, and the authorities gave them even more of a rise – in Chechnya’s case, egregiously so.

  • True, although I suspect that given a choice, fewer Chechens would bother to vote than the national average, bringing down total number of UR votes in another way.

  • There are another easy few tenths much closer to home. The official 46+ figure for Moscow is totally bogus, and every percent there translates into about 0.06% nationwide.

  • It basically says that Moscow’s results are suspect because they don’t follow a Gaussian distribution.

    I have a few quibbles with that. On the graph, neither does the liberal Yabloko party (having two spikes near 2% and then 10%).

    That said, what I do find convincing is the discrepancy between FOM’s exit polls (28%) and the real result (44% or 46%, forget which one). Unless there are mitigating explanations, the conclusion has to be that there were systematic falsifications in Moscow.

    Still, it seems to have worked out more or less fairly at the federal level.

    One more thing about the Caucasus. I discovered this graph of exit polls by federal districts, the UR figure given for the Caucasus district being 61% – whereas no other federal district is above 50%. Considering that the sole Russia-majority oblast, Stavropol, voted the Russian way (UR – 49%), it appears my guess about Caucasus voting was correct. UR must have gotten about 65-70% in the Muslim Caucasus republics (to cancel out Stavropol’s result). Which was then inflated by 20-25% percentage points.

    I’m not sure that the assumption that the turnout is lower than the national average is valid. Mostly, there is a positive correlation between turnout and votes for UR.

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