Support for partial mobilization in Russia by demographic group
Since Vladimir Putin declared "partial mobilization" on September 21, we've been asking respondents whether they support the policy. A majority of our respondents--around 62%--say they are in favor of partial mobilization. However, support is uneven across demographic groups: men and older Russians tend to support partial mobilization more than women and younger Russians.
Men support partial mobilization more than women
According to Russia Watcher data, around 67% of Russian men either "generally support" or "fully support" Putin's decision to declare partial mobilization. Among women, support for partial mobilization is around 59%.*
Interestingly, women are far more likely to give "don't know" (DK) or "prefer not to answer" (NA) responses to this question: ~24% of women gave DK/NA responses, while only ~11% of men did. One factor that likely contributes to this difference is that men tend to express greater political interest than women. On a 1-4 scale where 1 = "not at all interested" and 4 = "very interested," the average male respondent's self-reported political interest was a 3.2, while the average female respondent's was a 2.9.
Women also tend to follow the situation in Ukraine less closely than men. On a 1-4 scale where 1 = "doesn't follow at all" (or has never heard of it) and 4 = "very closely," male respondents on average score 3.1, while female respondents score 2.8.
However, there may be other reasons why women are more likely to decline to say whether they support partial mobilization. For example, perhaps they are less sure about what to think because partial mobilization is less likely to affect them personally.
Older people support partial mobilization more than younger people
We also find that older Russians are more likely to support partial mobilization than younger Russians. Among respondents aged 18-24, average support for partial mobilization is ~52%. With each consecutive age group, support increases: ~58% for 25-34, ~61% for 35-44, ~64% for 45-54, and ~70% for >54. This pattern may be due to the fact that younger Russians are more likely to be "mobilized" than older Russians.
It is worth noting that when we consider support for general (mass) mobilization, this pattern was in the opposite direction--at least until late September. Until 9/21, when Putin declared partial mobilization, older Russians were LESS likely to support general mobilization, compared to younger Russians. While ~38% of respondents aged 18-24 said they either fully or generally supported mass mobilization, only ~11% of respondents 54+ expressed support for it. However, if we look at responses from after 9/21, when Putin declared partial mobilization, we see that there's a much less clear relationship between age and support for general mobilization than there was before. Since 9/21, ~15% of respondents 18-24 have expressed support for general mobilization, while ~19% of respondents 54+ have.
The differing trends in support for general and partial mobilization across age categories might be explained, at least in part, by the fact that young Russians see less of a difference between general and partial mobilization than do older Russians. Among respondents aged 18-24, ~48% oppose both general AND partial mobilization. At the same time, ~49% of those younger Russians who oppose general mobilization SUPPORT partial mobilization. Among respondents aged 54+, ~30% oppose both general AND partial mobilization, while ~61% of those older Russians who oppose general mobilization SUPPORT partial mobilization. These figures show that older Russians are more likely to oppose general mobilization but support partial mobilization, compared to younger Russians. Although we cannot be sure why this is, a logical explanation is that older Russians put more stock in the government narrative that partial mobilization and general mobilization are distinct policies, with the former being considerably milder.
People with postgrad degrees support partial mobilization less than the rest of the population
Finally, education shows a less clear pattern. In general, a respondent's level of education is not strongly associated with support for partial mobilization. ~62% of respondents with a university degree express support, while ~64% of those who did not attend university do. On average, support among respondents whose highest level of completed education is high school is ~64%; the same is true for respondents who attended a vocational or technical college. Support among those who only finished middle or elementary school is slightly lower, at ~59%.
The major exception to this pattern (or lack thereof), is respondents with postgraduate degrees, who are far less supportive of partial mobilization than the rest of the population. Only around 42% of respondents with a postgraduate degree say they support the policy.
These basic descriptive statistics show that although a majority of our Russian respondents support partial mobilization (excluding DK and NA responses), this support is uneven across demographic groups. In future analyses, we will look more closely at the reasons behind these differences. We also plan to look at trends over time in support among these demographic groups.
A final note: as we alluded to above, support for partial mobilization is not a mirror of support for general/ mass mobilization. A much smaller fraction of the Russian population supports mass mobilization: slightly over 20% on average, since we started running our survey. Only ~8% of our respondents completely support general mobilization.
- Unless otherwise noted, our figures exclude "don't know" (DK) and "prefer not to answer" (NA) responses from the denominator. This is because we don't have clear evidence about what assumptions to make about the preferences of respondents who decline to say whether they support partial mobilization. If we were to include DK/NA responses in the denominator of the support indicator, that would be akin to coding them as 0--that is, assuming they oppose partial mobilization. By excluding them, we are implicitly assuming that their preferences follow the same distribution as the preferences of those who choose to give an answer.