Less than three weeks before the March 17 general election, some 21 percent of the nation’s voters are still unsure how they will vote. Most of these voters will make up their minds in the last week before the election, though some will only decide en route to the ballot box.
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A special survey commissioned by Haaretz sought to determine not how the “undecideds” were leaning, and how firm the parties’ support is among those who have ostensibly decided how they are voting. As it turns out, many such voters, when asked if they might consider voting for a different party, are quick to name an alternate party as an option.
This survey, which was conducted by the Internet-based Midgam project under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, essentially sketches out the danger zones between the various parties, particularly within the same bloc. The findings indicate which parties are liable to lose voters and to which parties or, alternately, which parties can feel secure about the loyalty of their voters.
The most surprising find relates to Zionist Union, headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni: 43 percent of the party’s voters, nearly half, named another party as an alternative choice. The largest group, 17 percent, might vote for Yesh Atid if they decide to abandon Zionist Union. Twelve percent would consider voting for Meretz. On the other hand, 19 percent of those who identified as Meretz voters cited Zionist Union as an option, as did 14 percent of Yesh Atid voters.
On the other side of the aisle, 36 percent of Likud voters told the pollsters that they might consider voting for a different party. As expected, the largest group, 17 percent, cited Habayit Hayehudi as their other option. Only 4 percent would consider voting for Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, contrary to what has been commonly believed.
Some 17 percent of Habayit Hayehudi voters would consider voting Likud instead under certain conditions, while 6 percent would consider voting for Kulanu.
The party whose voters are firmest in their support are those of United Torah Judaism; the party most at risk of being abandoned is Yahad, headed by Eli Yishai. Fully half of Yahad’s voters are liable to vote for other parties (primarily Shas or UTJ).
In addition to the Internet survey, a telephone survey was conducted Monday through the Dialog firm, also supervised by Fuchs. The main findings of the poll are:
* If the election was held today, both Likud and Zionist Union would get 23 seats each. The Likud has thus lost two seats compared to the last poll conducted three weeks ago, while Zionist Camp has failed to gain any ground. Yesh Atid would get 12 seats, compared to nine three weeks ago, while Habayit Hayehudi would also win 12 seats, down from 14. The Joint List retains its projected 12 seats. They are followed by Kulanu (9) Shas and UTJ (7 each), Meretz (5) and Yahad (4). This is bad news for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his bloc has lost four seats since the last poll.
* The good news for Netanyahu is that the center-left bloc has not improved enough to put his better chance at forming a government at risk: the Likud-right-Haredi bloc is set to number 59 seats, compared to 52 seats for the rival bloc. Kahlon’s party, with nine seats, is liable to be the one to decide who becomes prime minister.
* The poll once again asked respondents about the ability and suitability of the two prime ministerial hopefuls, Netanyahu and Herzog. Netanyahu tops Herzog by a wide margin on questions like who is more suited to be prime minister, or who is better able to deal with Israel’s diplomatic and security situation. On socioeconomic issues, however, Herzog is deemed more capable than Netanyahu.
* Herzog, however, comes out on top in response to questions addressing the candidates’ character, such as which contender will be more concerned with “people like you,” or which candidate respondents thought was more trustworthy. All told, however, while the public seems to trust Herzog more, they believe, by a wide margin, that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.
The telephone survey questioned 514 respondents and has a margin of error of 4.2 percent.