With less than a week to election day, the number of floating voters has fallen dramatically, but the breakdown of voting intentions hasn't changed, according to an Haaretz poll supervised by Professor Camil Fuchs.
Kadima still leads the race with with a projected 36 Knesset seats - a 19-seat lead on the 17 Labor has after dropping three this week.
The Likud went down from 16 Knesset seats to 14.
A week ago voters amounting to 26 Knesset seats told pollsters they hadn't decided how to vote yet. This week only a number of voters equivalent to 18 Knesset seats are still fluctuating, or saying they are. Most of the undecided have been divided according to their answers, such as whom they voted for last time, or which two parties they were swaying between, among the various parties.
The expected voter turnout remains low: only 65 percent said they would definitely go to vote next Tuesday. The poll indicates that Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not have difficulty setting up any coalition he wishes next week without having to sacrifice too many government guidelines or senior portfolios. Olmert can form a left wing-ultra-Orthodox coalition (Kadima, Labor, Meretz, Shas and Torah Judaism equal 76 Knesset seats), a left-right coalition (Kadima, Labor, Meretz, Shas, Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beitenu equal 85 Knesset seats), a coalition with the Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and the ultra-Orthodox (76 Knesset seats) or a coalition with the medium and small parties, without the Likud and Labor (Kadima, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, Torah Judaism (62 Knesset seats).
This is all assuming that the elections results corroborate the poll.
The Haaretz-Channel 10 News poll was held among a sample of 600 people Tuesday with an error margin of 4 percent.
According to the poll Meretz soared by two Knesset seats in one week, reaching six, Balad leaped from two to four, Yisrael Beitenu has lost one Knesset seat, dropping from 10 to nine, and the Pensioners Party is touching the minimum required number of votes, with two Knesset seats.
The poll examined the public's approach to the three leading parties and three candidates for prime minister. The results indicate the public's negative attitude toward the Likud and its chair, Benjamin Netanyahu. Some 50 percent regard the Likud in a negative manner, and 20 percent regard it positively. Some 44 percent regard Labor with a negative view, compared to 26 with a positive view. Kadima gets the highest grade from the public - 37 percent have a negative view of it and 26 have a positive view.
The public's view of the leaders is similar. Some 50 percent have a negative image of Netanyahu, compared to 22 who have a positive image of him. Amir Peretz's image is slightly better - 23 percent said they have a positive image of him compared to 43 percent who have a negative one. Ehud Olmert gets the best marks here, too: 39 percent have a negative image of him, while 26 percent have a positive one.
Asked which of the three is most suitable to be prime minister, those surveyed gave answers that indicated no significant changes. Olmert still leads over Netanyahu and Peretz with 26 percent, 20.5 percent and 16 percent respectively. However, 24 percent answered no one, which indicates a general lack of enthusiasm for the three.
Kadima, Likud strive to counter voter apathyKadima is increasingly worried about low voter turnout for the elections Tuesday, in the wake of opinion polls indicating voter apathy.
In discussions with his consultants, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed concern that a low voter turnout will take a toll primarily on Kadima, which is counting largely on "spontaneous voting," as one Olmert adviser told Haaretz. The party is afraid that those supporting Kadima in the polls may wind up thinking that the election has already been won by Kadima, and will not feel obligated to actually vote.
"A low voter turnout will make it difficult for us to form a stable coalition," Olmert said.
The campaign will therefore focus on conveying the message that the battle isn't over yet and that a strong Kadima is needed to implement its platform.
A further concern among Olmert associates is that if the gap between Kadima and the Labor Party shrinks to 10-12 Knesset seats, Kadima will be forced to give Labor chair Amir Peretz the finance portfolio.
"A ruling party must not forgo the finance portfolio," a senior Kadima member said yesterday. "But if we weaken, and Peretz insists, we will be facing a tough problem."
The Likud is also worried about the voting public's seeming lack of interest in the elections. In response, the party has decided to focus all its efforts in the time remaining on bringing back wavering Likud voters, having realized there is no longer any point in spending energy on an appeal to right-wing voters that has yielded no significant results. The object is to win between two and three Knesset seats from the pool of undecided Likud supporters, or from those who were not planning to vote at all because of disappointment in the Likud.
Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu ended his speech at a party rally for female activists yesterday by asking his audience to work to convince former Likud supporters to vote for the party.
"I am asking you to talk only to them," he said. "The [Knesset seats] are sitting at home. Go to them and ask they whether they want Kadima, because sitting at home is like voting for Kadima. Tell them that only the Likud can stop the dangerous things."
In keeping with this dictum, the last lap of Likud's campaign will employ messages such as this cry by Likud leaders: "Don't let the pollsters, the commentators make decisions for you. The elections have not been decided."
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