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Ukraine: Citizen Media and Political Forecasting

Some of the online conversations about this year's Ukrainian presidential candidates appear to be somewhat lacking in substance. This, in part, can be explained by the fact that the most popular of these politicians have been around for quite a while and there isn't much left to discuss about them. There's also certain voter fatigue, as well as the fact that some voters seem to be guided by their ideas of physical attractiveness rather than more practical considerations when choosing the head of their state. As one blogger – LJ user grebeniuk – noted in an earlier GV translation,

[…] Political advisers, marketing and advertising specialists don't even have to bother! Comb your candidate, do the makeup, and go ahead! It's funny and sad :) […]

Over-simplification isn't always a bad thing, though. Moscow-based LJ user limikon, for example, has managed to gain some curious insight by focusing on something that the top 5 presidential candidates (as well as the candidate who came in seventh) shared on the CVs: their past ties to ex-president Leonid Kuchma. He stripped the candidates of their names, which must have seemed redundant in this context, and shared his insight (RUS):

It's quite amusing to read the results of the Ukrainian election

#1 – Kuchma's premier;
#2 – Kuchma's vice-premier;
#3 – Kuchma's vice-premier, head of the [National Bank of Ukraine];
#4 – Kuchma's acting head of the [National Bank];
#5 – Kuchma's premier;
#7 – head of Kuchma's [Presidential Administration]

The mighty old man has laid eggs into Ukrainian politics that will last for the next 20 years. […]

Despite such familiarity and other discouraging factors, there was no lack of interest in the outcome of the election, and, as a result, the blogosphere was overflowing with political forecasting attempts on the eve of the Jan. 17 vote.

Below are some of the actual results of the first round of the election (more about the vote, its winners and runners-up is here):

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 35.32% (8,686,751 votes)
#2 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 25.05% (6,159,829 votes)
#3 – Serhiy Tihipko – 13.06% (3,211,257 votes)
#4 – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – 6.96% (1,711,749 votes)
#5 – Victor Yushchenko – 5.41% (1,341,539 votes)

And here are a few summaries of the polls and forecasts that appeared on Ukrainian and Russian blogs.

LJ user vaxo (Ukrainian journalist Vakhtang Kipiani) surveyed 301 bloggers (UKR), 22 of whom (7.89%) did not plan to vote in this election at all. The poll's results are below:

#1 – Victor Yushchenko – 35.48% (99 votes)
#2 – Serhiy Tihipko – 14.7% (41 votes)
#3 – Oleh Tyahnybok – 9.68% (27 votes)
#4 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 5.73% (16 votes)
#5 – Victor Yanukovych – 2.51% (7 votes)

LJ user kermanich (Ukrainian journalist Andrey Manchuk) was not pleased with the results of this poll and wrote this (RUS) about the Ukrainian blogosphere and the society in general:

[…] Reading the results of such an impromptu voting on [Kipiani's blog], it seems as if Ukrainian bloggers live not just in some other country, but altogether on a different planet.

[…]

Such an indecent gap between the opinion of the people and the opinion of the “patriotic blogosphere,” represented by a thin social stratum of office intelligentsia, shows how hopelessly removed these folks are from the people. […]

At least two more polls conducted by Ukrainian bloggers had Victor Yushchenko as their winner.

At chomusyk LJ community (“Ask Me: All that you wanted to ask about”), 495 people responded (UKR), 57 (11.5%) of them did not support any of the candidates and 83 (16.8%) did not plan to go to the polling station at all. Here's the rest the vote breakdown (UKR):

#1 – Victor Yushchenko – 27.5% (136 votes)
#2 – Anatoliy Hrytsenko – 15.4% (76 votes)
#3 – Serhiy Tihipko – 9.9% (49 votes)
#4 – Oleh Tyahnybok – 6.9% (34 votes)
#5 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 6.3% (31 votes)
#6 – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – 1.8% (9 votes)
#7 – Victor Yanukovych – 1.2% (6 votes)

At LJ user ledilid‘s blog, 188 people turned up for a vote (UKR):

#1 – Victor Yushchenko – 43.1% (81 votes)
#2 – Oleh Tyahnybok – 20.2% (38 votes)
#3 – Anatoliy Hrytsenko – 10.6% (20 votes)
#4 – Serhiy Tihipko – 7.4% (14 votes)
#5 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 5.9% (11 votes)
#6 – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – 5.3% (10 votes)
#7 – Victor Yanukovych – 1.1% (2 votes)

A poll (RUS) at LJ user sunlike77‘s blog, which surveyed 479 bloggers, produced comparatively realistic results:

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 34.7% (166 votes)
#2 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 30.7% (147 votes)

And the forecasts by 126 bloggers who took part in LJ user kotyhoroshko‘s The People's Prognosis project (UKR), produced a pretty good reflection of the actual results as well:

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 29.27%
#2 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 21.56%
#3 – Serhiy Tihipko – 9.48%

A Twitter poll (RUS) set up by Odesa-based Twitter user #netocrat drew 335 votes and had the following vote breakdown:

#1 – Serhiy Tihipko – 34% (114 votes)
#2 – Victor Yushchenko – 19% (65 votes)
#3 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 14% (47 votes)
#4 – Anatoliy Hrytsenko – 10% (33 votes)
#5 – Arseniy Yatsenyuk – 7% (24 votes)
#6 – Oleh Tyahnybok – 6% (21 votes)
#7 – Victor Yanukovych – 6% (19 votes)

One of Russia's most popular bloggers, LJ user drugoi, introduced his Ukrainian election survey (RUS) with a photo of three activists of the Ukrainian women's group FEMEN, who were urging voters at a Kyiv polling station not to sell their votes (their slogan (RUS): “Don't be a whore! Don't sell your vote!“). As of now, 3,931 bloggers have cast their votes (RUS) – and the voting seems to keep going:

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 17% (670 votes)
#2 – Serhiy Tihipko – 16.8% (662 votes)
#3 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 13.8% (541 votes)

Another popular Russian blogger, LJ user tema, had 13,842 bloggers respond to his election-related survey (RUS), which seemed like the least serious in tone and presentation, but which nevertheless managed to place the first three contenders in the right order:

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 19.9% (2,758 votes)
#2 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 15.7% (2,175 votes)
#3 – Serhiy Tihipko – 12.2% (1,685 votes)

LJ user yashin (Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin, whose blog carries the following tagline: “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido“/”The people united will never be defeated” – one of the slogans of the 2004 post-election protests in Ukraine) hosted a political prognosis contest (RUS), and below is the average outcome of the bets submitted by 168 bloggers:

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 31.4%
#2 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 24.7%
#3 – Serhiy Tihipko – 9.48%

U.S.-based LJ user kireev (Aleksandr Kireev, founder of the bilingual Electoral Geography website), conducted a political forecasting competition (RUS) as well, in which 99 bloggers took part – and he even issued two awards: one for the best forecast and one for the worst.

The best forecast award went to LJ user tulskiy (Russian political analyst Mikhail Tulskiy), whose guess was very close to the actual results:

#1 – Victor Yanukovych – 34.5%
#2 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 23%
#3 – Serhiy Tihipko – 15.5%

The worst forecast award – an optimist's pink glasses – went to LJ user tanya_ogf, who made the following projections:

#1 – Yulia Tymoshenko – 23.4%
#2 – Victor Yushchenko – 20.7%
#3 – Victor Yanukovych – 19.4%

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