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Putin's landslide a feat of election engineering, genuine popularity

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a campaign rally in March before winning reelection
President Putin attends a rally near the Kremlin on election day, March 18, 2018. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commanding reelection victory — 76% of the vote with 67% turnout — has been described at once as a "sham" in The Washington Post and as evidence of his “overwhelming mandate” in The New York Times. The truth is more complicated.

Why it matters: The election was marked by all the usual shenanigans: roughly 10 million suspicious votes for Putin, ballot-box stuffing and blatant bias in media coverage. But the genuine popular support Putin enjoys should not be underestimated.