The effect of “falsification of preferences”: the rise and fall of mass support for M.S. Gorbachev

The effect of “falsification of preferences”:
the rise and fall of mass support for M.S. Gorbachev

Article received: 2023.08.19. Accepted: 2024.01.10

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2024.02.13

For citation:

Babich N.S. The effect of “falsification of preferences”: the rise and fall of mass support for M.S. Gorbachev . – Polis. Political Studies. 2024. No. 2. P. 179-191. (In Russ.). EDN: ZZGJIH


In difficult political situations, such as the one in which Russia finds itself today, the public support of incumbent leaders is of particular importance. But how real is this support, to what extent can it really be relied upon? The answer to this question can be found, among others, by referring to the experience of leaders who have faced a rise and fall of their popularity. In recent Russian history the experience of M.S. Gorbachev is valuable. According to the traditional view, he was a politician who enjoyed the  sincere support of the population in the first half of his time in power, but lost it due to unsuccessful reforms in the end. This article is devoted to an empirical verification of this thesis. First, we substantiate the competing hypothesis of Gorbachev's initial lack of wide popularity in Soviet society, then use a comparative analysis of public opinion polls, to provide evidence for this hypothesis. The study, based on empirical material of sociological research, confirms the thesis that M.S. Gorbachev was not popular among the bulk of the Soviet population even during the period when he received high ratings in public opinion polls. Their sharp fall in June 1990 is much better explained not by the gradual disappointment of the population, but by the fact that the adoption of the Declaration on the Sovereignty of the RSFSR made visible the loss of power by the “union center”. The body of evidence presented in the article allows us to assert that the high ratings of M.S. Gorbachev were the result of the insincerity of the respondents rather than the true attitude towards the head of state.

Gorbachev, political rating, political leadership, public opinion polls, falsification of preferences, public opinion, sincerity of respondents, public support, popularity of political leader, political crisis.


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Content No. 2, 2024

See also:

Oslon A.A.,
Megapolls for Russia’s Population (The “Georating” Project). – Polis. Political Studies. 2006. No6

Bernays E.L.,
Manipulating public opinion: the why and the how. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No4

Satarov G.A.,
Trust as an Object of Political Sociology. Part I. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No1

Kazun A.D.,
“Rally Around the Flag” Effect. How and Why Support of the Authorities Grows During International Conflicts and Tragedies?. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No1

Satarov G.A.,
Trust as an Object of Political Sociology. Part II. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No2



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