A master of this election rigging business doesn't shoot for 51% like Bush did in 2004. It's too easy to accidentally undershoot and hit 49% and have to rely on your daddy's hand-picked Supreme Court justices to "elect" you to office, like with the 2000 election, and this might cause some international concerns that, well, your elections aren't fair. Make sure you win with 99% of the vote, like Castro or Saddam did, and folks know your elections aren't fair. But win with 70% of the vote... well, you can pass that off as "hey, I'm just popular".
Which Putin is, right now. The neocon invasion of Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union was an utter disaster for the majority of the people of Russia. Russians went from having good health care, good schools, and basic requirements of life met to having no health care, no schools, and trading their shoes for turnips for their daily meals. Now, after eight years of Putin kicking out the neo-con looters and taking back under Russian ownership all those assets which had been looted by whatever goon figured out the least dubious way to take them over, things have gotten back to "normal" insofar as anything has ever been normal in Russia. So Putin can rig an election with 70% and the international community just shrugs. Because, frankly, that's probably close to what he'd win if Russia ever did have free and open elections, so why bother?
Which is the smartest thing that a master does in the end: he makes sure he is popular with 70% of the voters so that even if for some reason he does have to hold free and open elections, he'll still get elected. As vs moron cowboys like George W. Bush, who just don't give a shit as long as he gets
selectedelected. Which is why Bush's party is going to lose the 2008 elections big-time, while Putin's party gets 70% of the vote. Uniting, not dividing. Ruling for the benefit of the people as well as the benefit of the ruling party. Gosh, what odd concepts those seem, after eight years of Bushevik rule!
-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin