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New Election Poll Forecasts Likud Implosion, Social Justice Party Breaks New Ground With Successful Social Media-Based Campaign

I’ve been forwarded results of a new Israeli election poll compiled over the past few hours.  I know the pollster’s name, though I can’t name it.  It’s one of Israel’s most reputable.  I don’t have physical possession of the actual poll.  If the poll is accurate it predicts a massive implosion of the Likud-Beitenu campaign.  The last published poll by Haaretz showed the Party dropping down to 32 seats.  This in itself was a massive slide from its previous projection of over 40 seats.  This more recent poll shows further erosion down to 29 seats.  This is only marginally better than Likud polled alone in the last election (27).  If you add the Yisrael Beitenu seats, the two parties may have lost around 13 seats by tomorrow.  Most of those lost seats appear to have gone to the insurgent, farther-right party HaBayit HaYehudi. The other beneficiaries of this result appear to be parties of the left and center:

Labor- 15 seats
Likud – 29
Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) – 16
HaBayit HaYehudi (Naftali Bennett) – 16
Meretz – 6
* Eretz Hadasha – 4
Livni 6-7
Kadima – 3
Shas – 10
Israeli-Palestinian parties – 10

* UPDATE: Nitay Peretz has tweeted a poll by the same pollster which show different results.  After some research, I’ve discovered that the poll results Nitay offered are from three days ago and the results I’m quoting are from earlier today.  So the result quoted above is more recent than what Nitay is quoting.  Nevertheless, there are some striking differences in that 2-3 days interval.  Eretz Chadasha goes from 0 to 4 seats and Otzma Yisrael, a Kahanist party, goes from 3 to 0 seats.  It’s pretty astonishing and, if true, shows that Israeli voters are incredibly volatile in the closing days of this campaign.

If these results prove accurate, then the losers besides Likud-Beitenu are Labor and Shas. The winners are Meretz (+2), Naftali Bennet’s party (+2 from its last poll result) and Yair Lapid.  Though Kadima has lost virtually its entire mandate, it has risen from nowhere in earlier polls to three seats, which is a modest victory in a sense. Eretz Chadasha is one the biggest winners with four seats.

As I wrote in an earlier post, this still doesn’t massively change the political complexion of the next Knesset.  It will still be right-wing dominated.  Bibi will still form a government that includes Bennett’s party and other far-right factions.  But if the results above hold, then Bibi will be profoundly weakened personally.  This also means his vacuous, issueless campaign turned out to be disastrous. This will give free rein to competitors within the ranks of right wing parties like Lieberman and Bennett to begin jockeying for the certain generational shift that will be coming in future elections.  It presages a further rightward drift in the Israeli political majority.

Labor, which had been polling at around 20 seats, has sunk to its lowest polling result since election surveys in this cycle began.  It means that the center-left party has bled voters to those farther to its left, including Meretz and Eretz Chadasha.  Lapid has virtually taken over the spot in the political spectrum Kadima used to occupy and becomes the de facto centrist party in Knesset.

Eretz Chadasha’s results show the continuing resonance of the social justice message in Israeli society. It also shows a successful campaign can be run almost entirely via social media and the internet. In its case, the party was virtually boycotted by the entire establishment media, which wouldn’t (except for two exceptions) even accepts its ads.  This campaign has shown that many of the conventional parties failed to move the electorate with their stale, value-free platforms.  Voters have become extremely cynical and the fault lies with the mainstream parties themselves.  This cynicism has enabled the innovative and unconventional parties to make major inroads.  It remains to be seen whether newcomers like Lapid, Bennett and Eldad Yaniv can transform their insurgent campaigns and show staying power and relevance to the Israeli political scene.

A media campaign by outlets like Haaretz (and even the Arab League!) urging Israeli Palestinians to vote appears not to have moved the community, as its share of the Knesset remains stable at 10.

UPDATE II: I’m very proud of this tweet from the 7the Eye, the Israeli media blog which says:

At a time when in Israel it’s forbidden to report election surveys, the American blogger, Richard Silverstein, publishes a survey leaked to him.

Israel’s censors and guardians of proper political decorum seem to have missed that we’re now in a digital age and not the age of the telegraph or Pony Express.  The believe that just as Israel has build a physical Separation to keep Palestinians out, it can build a virtual wall to keep information from its citizens.  But news is not confined to TV or radio and it’s not confined to reporting from within the boundaries of your own country.  Those borders can be penetrated by information like what’s published here.

I should say that this reporting could not happen without the support of Israelis who themselves have joined the digital age and want their country to do so as well.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • William Burns January 21, 2013, 4:22 PM

    Why aren’t the Arab parties listed? Was the Arab population polled?

    • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 4:43 PM

      10 seats–Israeli Palestinian parties

    • Deïr Yassin January 21, 2013, 5:01 PM

      Yes, that was my first reaction too. Just tells us that they don’t count…..
      Noam Sheizaf wrote a while back that +972mag had decided not to publish any polls that didn”t differentiate between the ‘Arab’ parties. Apparently in many Israeli polls that distinction is not made. An Arab is an Arab is an Arab, and after all, they only have formal voting rights. God forbids that they ever get any actual influence.

      • Deïr Yassin January 21, 2013, 5:12 PM

        PS. Hopefully that meant the fascists Michael Ben-Ari, Arieh Eldad and Baruh Marzel from Otzma are out. United Torah Judaism is also missing.

        • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 9:45 PM

          It looks like Bennett knocked out Otzma. But now you’ll have would-be Dome of the Rock bomber Jeremy Wimpel (I mean, Gimpel) in Knesset. I don’t know which is worse.

          • Deïr Yassin January 22, 2013, 1:53 AM

            In fact, you’re right. Ben-Ari, Eldad and Marzel are at least so openly fascist thugs that it’s impossible not to see whereas Bennett seems more slick.

      • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 9:46 PM

        The poll I just published breaks out the Palestinian parties by name & result. The first one didn’t have them broken out independently but lumped them together. That wasn’t my doing.

  • Zohar January 21, 2013, 4:46 PM

    This adds up to 115 (including the 10 seats mentioned above). Five seats still missing… Please check with your source.

    • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 11:05 PM

      @Zohar: I’m guessing that those 5 seats are for Agudah which polled at 6 seats in a Rafi Smith poll from three days ago.

  • Ohad January 21, 2013, 10:29 PM

    Hi, Richard

    The reason why Nitay Peretez doesn’t include Eretz Chadasha is simply another example of the censorship this party is put under in polls for the entire campaign, my opinion is that your initial source is correct and Nitay’s tweet shows tampered results.

    • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 11:10 PM

      No, I think the reason is different. I questioned Nitay and he told me the Rafi Smith poll he quoted is from 3 days ago. The one I’m quoting is from about 12 hours ago. This means that Eretz Chadasha went from 0 to 4 seats in that interval, which, if true, is incredible. It also means Otzma went from 3 to 0 seats in that time frame.

      • Ohad January 21, 2013, 11:35 PM

        Thanks for your reply, but I think Nitay was just trying to cover himself up because you put him on the spot.

        I do not believe it’s possible that two different polls within 3 days would have the EXACT same results for every single party except for those two.

        Nitay is a member of the extreme right and he has every motive to tamper with the result in order to encourage voters for Otzma to go vote. Eretz Hadasha and Otzma are heaven and earth from each other, the populations voting for each party is entirely different. Think of the difference between the Tea Party and the most liberal section in the democratic party you can think of.

  • Gil January 21, 2013, 10:33 PM

    5 solid seats usually go to Yahadut Hatora every time

  • Frankie January 21, 2013, 11:53 PM

    Could you please post the specs of the poll? These should probably appear in your information (the number of people polled, margin of error, land line phones or cell phones, etc.)

    • Richard Silverstein January 22, 2013, 2:40 AM

      These are internal party polls, not publicly accessible ones. It’s illegal inside Israel to publish such polls within 5 days of an election. If I physically had the polls in front of me I would certainly do so. But doing so might endanger my source as well.

  • Adriel January 22, 2013, 12:23 AM

    Something is illogical here: where are the votes for the orthodox party “Yahadut Hatora”. They must have their firm 5-6 votes! Which is the party/are the parties here which have their votes?

  • itamar January 22, 2013, 12:35 AM

    Actually, this poll claims that the left-center has a 60-61 seat block which actually means that Netanyahoo will *not* be the next prime minister, but Yair Lapid – the chairman of the largest party in the block.

  • borris January 22, 2013, 12:46 AM

    The jumps in the small parties are not that unbelievable. The barrier in the elections in Israel is 2% which is 2.4 seats. So the jump from 3 to 0 by Ozma can actually be a jump of only 0.7%

  • Greta Berlin January 22, 2013, 1:16 AM

    Thanks Richard. I always love reading your posts, and this poll is interesting. I know of dozens of Israelis who are giving their votes to Palestinians who can’t vote. I know it won’t be huge, but the movement will grow. These Palestinians are all from the occupied territories or the Diaspora.

    • Jon January 24, 2013, 5:36 AM

      Is there a movement in palestine to give votes to Israelis? Saying that palestinians (who are living in palestine) should vote in israeli elections is like saying Canadians should vote in American elections.

      • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2013, 2:09 AM

        I can’t begin to measure how much ignorance this comment encapsulates. First, if you wish to compare Palestine to Canada and the U.S. to Israel can you tell me when Palestine became an independent country as Canada is? Israeli governments have never recognized an independent Palestine. Given that, Palestinians have every right to seek their self determination within a unitary state calling it Israel or whatever. Were Israel ever to recognize Palestine (not in the offing I’m afraid), you’d have a stronger case. Still not that strong, but at least stronger.

  • roi January 22, 2013, 3:53 AM

    You forget the United Torah Judaism, you have onli 115/116 mandates and in Israel has 120 seats so i guess you forget to write them and they have 4/5 seats.
    You chould maybe being more sapicific about the arab parties?
    From the ten how many seats get hadash, United Arab List and Arab Democratic Party?
    I guess it will be Hadash-4 UAL-3 and ADP-3 but i want to be sure.

  • rami January 22, 2013, 10:30 AM

    Agudat Yisrael is missing. Therefore this poll is a wishful thinking

    • Richard Silverstein January 22, 2013, 9:35 PM

      I’ve already noted this is another comment: there are 5 seats missing in the list & they belong to Agudah. The wishful thinking is on your part I’m afraid.

  • Yuval January 22, 2013, 9:21 PM

    Could you have been deliberately tricked into publishing this speculative poll (where obviously Erez Hadasha numbers are wrong)?

    • Richard Silverstein January 23, 2013, 2:56 AM

      Could you have been deliberately tricked into posting this silly comment where obviously yr speculation is wrong?

      • Yuval January 24, 2013, 11:23 AM

        I did not mean to offend you. I did not mean to imply that you were manipulating any poll.
        I am asking how reliable your source was.
        In the final count, Eretz Hadasha did not get even 1%, a far cry from the 3% it needs for 4 mandates.

        As no polls are published in Israel, this may motivate insiders to feed manipulated data to bloggers.
        (This should now be verifiable whether these were real numbers from Rafi Smith or not).

        • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2013, 1:57 PM

          My sources were dead-on accurate about the polls. There was hanky panky by other parties that diverted Eretz Chadasha’s votes.

          I had access to two different polls (3 if you include Smith’s earlier poll which NItay Peretz tweeted).

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