An adviser talks to Vladimir Putin during a military exercise in 2019. Photo: TASS

“Russians remain uncritically loyal to their country as almost half (48%) agree that ‘people should support their country even if their country’s actions and policies are in the wrong,’” according to a new poll by data firm RIWI and economist David Woo.

The poll found that 80% of Russians believe that their country would have the upper hand in a “global power struggle,” as opposed to just 72% of Americans who were that optimistic about their own country.

Woo was the chief macro strategist for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch until 2021, when he founded his own firm. RIWI conducted this poll as part of its Cold War Index II program.

Despite the US administration’s hope that the Ukraine war would lead to Putin’s departure, the outbreak of hostilities appears to have strengthened the Russian president’s position.

Meanwhile, Russia’s central bank has succeeded in stabilizing the ruble, which has returned to its exchange rate prior to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s consumer inflation rate, meanwhile, also has fallen back to pre-war levels, as a strengthening currency and relaxed exchange controls suppressed panic buying.

Stores are, for the most part, well-stocked, restaurants are open and consumer activity is mostly normal, according to Moscow residents interviewed by Asia Times.

In addition, the poll found that Russians are more confident than Chinese and Americans that their country would have the “upper hand” in a “global power struggle.” Four-fifths of Russians believed that their country would prevail. Meanwhile, 64% of Chinese and 72% of Americans thought their own countries would come out on top.

RIWI claims that its polling method offers less bias than conventional surveys by offering anonymity to Internet users who respond anonymously to random inquiries. What RIWI brands as “Random Domain Intercept” polling is designed to “minimize bias and provide more reliable signals,” the firm claims.

According to a press release,

The data in this study were collected anonymously and on a 24/7 basis from more than 1300 Russians, more than 1600 Americans, and over 2200 Chinese between March 30 to April 18. This is the first study of its kind to collect real-time data from Russian, American, and Chinese citizens about the global geopolitical realignment.

The RIWI result is consistent with independent polling data by the Levada Center, a survey organization widely viewed as independent by Western analysts. According to a March 31 Levada poll, 83% of Russians backed Putin, compared with 71% in early February before the Ukraine war.

In response to a question from Asia Times, RIWI elaborated by email on its survey methodology:

The data in the Cold War II Index draws on a unique technology which minimizes biases associated with typical survey methods. The technology, Random Domain Intercept Technology (RDIT), engages a broad swath of the Web-using populations in Russia, China, and the US on a 24/7 basis.

The core concept behind the technology’s algorithms is that anyone surfing the Web has a random chance of exposure to the questions, which results in the inclusion of those who are not typically included in opinion polls.

Individuals surfing the Web have a chance of landing on a dormant domain temporarily being managed by RIWI. RIWI then intercepts the Web user and presents them with a RIWI survey.

Once exposed, RIWI validates the country of the Web user and delivers an appropriate survey. Also, unlike typical opinion polls in Russia, China, and the US, no identifiable information is collected (e.g., names, email) and no incentives for participation are provided.

These security measures/methodological characteristics encourage individuals to respond honestly (avoiding social desirability bias and incentive bias).

Follow David P. Goldman on Twitter at @davidpgoldman