Eight in ten Soviet citizens are dissatisfied with living conditions in the declining superpower, and nearly as many say that if they could, they'd vote for Russian leader Boris N. Yeltsin for president.
Just 14 percent of respondents to the poll said they would pick President Mikhail S. Gorbachev for the country's highest post, illustrating the plummeting popularity of the Soviet leader. Seventy percent said they'd choose Yeltsin.Gorbachev rose to power six years years ago, championing glasnost and perestroika, only to try to rein in the reform process in recent months when it slipped out of his control. He has never faced popular election.
The poll, conducted for U.S. News & World Report magazine by a Soviet firm, also found that more Soviets support the reformist coalition Democratic Russia than the Communist Party that has ruled the nation since 1917.
The sampling was unusual in that it questioned 3,000 people in each of the 15 Soviet republics and all the autonomous republics.
Many Soviet surveys cover only Moscow, where people tend to be more reform-minded than the multiethnic body of 290 million people spread across the world's largest country.
The International Sociological and Marketing Research, which conducted the poll last month, said it had a margin of error of 1.5 percent.
Yeltsin is Gorbachev's chief rival and advocates letting independence-minded republics leave the Soviet Union if that is their choice.
Gorbachev outpolled Yeltsin only in three small Central Asian republics where hard-liners retain control: Tadzhikistan, Turkmenia, and Kirgizia.
In Latvia, one of three Baltic republics seeking independence, Yeltsin was named by 89 percent of respondents.