It appears that Putin's ratings have risen sharply within a week...
That is if you take your information uncritically from Kara-Murza:
All three of Russia’s national polling agencies—the government-owned VTsIOM, the government-friendly FOM, and the independent Levada Center—suggest that Putin will fall below the 50-percent-plus-one threshold required for a first round victory: they predict, respectively, that he would win 49 percent, 44 percent, and 43 percent of votes cast. And with a possibility of a unified anti-Putin protest vote, the outcome of the runoff is far from certain.
A week ago, Kara-Murza claimed that Putin only has 36% support. What he again fails to mention at this instance, is that all of the polls he is citing above, are percentages from among all of the people inquired, which includes around 20% of those that either will not take part in the elections, or happen to be undecided. Likewise, notice that Kara-Murza does not link to the original websites of the poling agencies, but to reports in the liberal-friendly Kommersant, where a tendentious spin is to be expected. Putin's actual rating, as it stands, is around 60% (Levada puts it at 63%), and therefore, the liberal fantasy of there being a second round of elections is not likely to materialise.
Anatoly Karlin wrote this on the presidential elections, in his predictions for 2012:
There is little doubt that Putin will comfortably win the Presidential elections in the first round. The last December VCIOM poll implies he will get about 60%. So assuming there is no major movement in political tectonics in the last three months – and there’s no evidence for thinking that may be the case, as there are tentative signs that Putin’s popularity has began to recover in the last few weeks from its post-elections nadir. Due to the energized political situation, turnout will probably be higher than than in the 2008 elections – which will benefit Putin because of his greater support among passive voters. I do think efforts will be made to crack down on fraud so as to avoid a PR and legitimacy crisis, so that its extent will fall from perhaps 5%-7% in the 2011 Duma elections to maybe 2%-3% (fraud in places like the ethnic republics are more endemic than in, say, Moscow, and will be difficult to expunge); this will counterbalance the advantage Putin will get from a higher turnout. So that’s my prediction for March:Putin wins in the first round with 60%, followed by perennially second-place Zyuganov at 15%-20%, Zhirinovsky with 10%, and Sergey Mironov, Mikhail Prokhorov and Grigory Yavlinsky with a combined 10% or so. If Prokhorov and Yavlinsky aren’t registered to participate, then Putin’s first round victory will probably be more like 65%.
I personally do not think that taking out Yavlinskiy is of any benefit to Putin, but otherwise I agree with the basic thesis above. There will not be a second round of presidential elections! But what if there actually was? What if Putin really got those, say 45%? In that case, you can prepare for a contest between Putin and Zyuganov. Imagine that! Half of Bolotnaya will vote for Putin, and some hamsters from the internet will vote for Putin in secret. Welcome to a brave new world where liberal opinion does not matter!