The Russia Watcher Tracking Survey: Monitoring the Effects of Propaganda on Russian Public Opinion

The Russia Watcher project analyzes how public opinion in Russia responds to the developments of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine, and how citizens respond to propaganda messages by the Russian government, as well as by competing news coverage from foreign media and independent Russian sources. Researchers have been running daily online surveys of 200 Russian respondents since May 19, 2022 to capture a uniquely fine-grained picture of the temporal evolution of Russian public opinion about the war, as well as support for the government and for specific policies, such as missile strikes against Ukrainian cities and mobilization laws that affect large segments of the Russia population. These data make an important contribution to the study of public opinion in Russia, as well as information manipulation in authoritarian regimes more broadly. Beyond its value in producing cutting-edge research, the Russia Watcher project is an asset to the Princeton community. First, the data provide a useful teaching tool, particularly for students in SPIA and Politics studying topics related to information security and conflict. Second, the project plans to bring together students and scholars of Russia from different parts of the university to discuss important topics related to our project, including the future of politics in Russia and the challenges of conducting public opinion research in an authoritarian setting.