Putin is popular with most Russian demographics — rich, poor, young, old, Russian, ethnic, as well as male, female — and for good reason. After centuries of serfdom and privation under the czars, after decades of central planning and privation under the Communists, and after a decade of chaos and privation in the 1990s, Putin has delivered stability and prosperity.
By the end of 2006, the midpoint of his reign to date, his reputation was made. Russia’s GDP had almost tripled over the previous four years while its reserves had increased more than six-fold, the ruble was strong, inflation had been halved, the economy was growing at 7%, almost everyone had been made better off. Despite the recent recession which hit Russia’s energy-dependent economy especially hard — GDP plummeted by 8% in 2009 — Russia soon bounced back and it now boasts the world’s third-fastest growing economy. All told, since Putin came to power at the end of 1999, per-capita GDP rose an estimated six-fold, according to the IMF, and real disposable income is at its highest level ever.
I’ve got small use for Vlad the Bad, but compare his record against that of Bush/Obama, and especially against Obama.