A neighborhood in Rehovot.
A neighborhood in Rehovot. Photo by Ilia Melinkov
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Political analysts in the United States are forever seeking a "predictor state" (i.e., the state that reflects the country's variety of opinion and whose polls are a microcosm of every other state ). In the last U.S. elections, analysts repeatedly mentioned Ohio as predicting the strength of the Republican leader. Once it was Missouri: between 1900 and 2000, that state always forecast the winner, with only one exception. But in 2008 and 2012 Missouri voted Republican, and its glory faded.

Where, then, is Israel's Ohio? We went back to 2009 and compared the breakdown of Knesset votes for the various parties in Israel's big cities (excepting the Arab parties, for obvious reasons ).

We found that the city where the results most resembled the national outcome was Rehovot. The combination of poor neighborhoods, immigrant areas, the elite of the city's Weizmann Institute of Science, ultra-Orthodox community and new bourgeois neighborhoods paint a reliable portrait of Israeli society.

The results in Rehovot resembled the nationwide results, with a 2 percent margin of error, except for Likud, which received 4.3 percent more votes in Rehovot than nationwide.

Pollsters in Israel do not conduct individual city surveys, but it would be interesting to poll Rehovot specifically to see the outcome there.

After Rehovot, the most accurate predictor-city in Israel was Petah Tikva, but with an extra 4 percent voting Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu than the rest of the country.

In Rishon Letzion - the symbol of Israel's new middle class - 10 percent more voters cast their ballot for Kadima than did voters nationwide; less voters went with the ultra-Orthodox parties than they did nationwide. In Rosh Ha'ayin, Likud received 11 percent more votes than it did nationwide. Kudos to Rosh Ha'ayin native Miri Regev.

Now, two more comments on opinion polls.

1. Among the Arab parties, enough surveys with details about each party have now been carried out to be able to analyze trends in Arab-Israeli society. The United Arab List-Ta'al, headed by MK Ibrahim Sarsur, gained strength in the December polls, with a predicted four (and a bit ) Knesset seats. Some surveys, by pollsters Teleseker and Dr. Camil Fuchs, gave it five seats. The only survey where the results predicted three seats was Ma'agar Mohot.

The second largest party in the polls is Hadash, which averages three and a half seats. Balad is growing weaker and is hovering around the number of votes that would garner it just a single seat. It has 3.1 seats on average, too close to the minimum for making the Knesset. Some of the polls predicted in 2009 that Balad would not get in then - and it was the Arab party that received the least number of votes to make it to the Knesset. Balad seems to be shooting itself in the foot: the more it preaches how terrible the situation is, the less motivation it gives people to head for the ballot box.

2. Yair Lapid continues to seesaw in the polls. On Tuesday, Teleseker-Walla gave him 12 seats, but on Friday, a combined Ma'agar Mohot-Maariv's Mishal Ham poll only gave him seven.

Pollsters are having trouble analyzing Lapid's wavering young voters, predicting anything from five to 15 seats.