The Zionist Conspiracy
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Analyzing The Israeli Polls
The results of another slew of Friday polls have been published in Israel's newspapers, and yet again, they all indicate a Kadima rout, with Labor a very distant second and Likud third.
While it's too early to call the election for Kadima, it certainly looks likely that Ehud Olmert will soon be Israel's elected leader.
There has not been much serious analysis of the poll numbers. Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Much of the cause for the very wide margin by which Kadima is in the lead is the implosion of the Shinui party. Shinui, which has 15 seats in the current Knesset, is projected to get no seats at all in the next election. Shinui's voters tend to be secular, Ashkenazi, with centrist or center-left political views. They won't vote for Likud, and certainly not for any of the religious parties. Many of these people voted for Labor when Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin led the party, but they won't vote for Amir Peretz's Labor, because they don't like his socialist economic views. As a result, most Shinui voters will move to Kadima.
2. Likud is doing terribly in the polls for a number of different reasons. The most obvious one is that many Likud supporters followed Ariel Sharon to Kadima, and are sticking with Kadima.
But there are other reasons. Many religiously observant Israelis who voted for Likud in the past will now vote for the National Union-National Religious Party bloc, which is slated to receive between 8 and 10 Knesset seats.
Furthermore, some Sephardim who voted Likud in the last election will move over to Shas, in retaliation for Binyamin Netanyahu's serious cuts in government welfare programs during his tenure as finance minister in Sharon's government.
Finally, Russians previously gave significant support to Likud, but they too are abandoning the party. This is in part because of loyalty to Sharon, in part because of Netanyahu's economic policies, and in part because of the ascendancy of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisroel Beiteinu party, which according to polls could win as many as eight Knesset seats.
The result is that Likud's support has shrunk to its very loyal core.
The potential good news for Likud is that some of these people may return in time for the election. With an effective campaign, Likud could finish in second place with around 25 seats.
3. While Kadima will almost surely have the most Knesset seats, there is still a chance that the right-wing and religious parties could gather 61 seats and form a narrow coalition. Currently, polls show the right and religious collecting approximately 45-49 seats, but polls usually underestimate support for these sectors.
Admittedly, this remains a longshot. More realistic would be a Kadima win, but Olmert having a weak government that would be unable to push through the kind of unilateral measures that he would like to implement. Such a government could fall mid-term, particularly if intra-party dissension occurs in Kadima.