How did the right grow by 15 seats while Kadima maintained its strength? The entire political system has shifted rightward, it turns out.
Labor, the Pensioners Party and Meretz lost a total of 16 seats. Many Kadima voters also moved rightward, but they were replaced by new voters from the left. That is how the right swelled to 56 seats, while the leftist Zionist parties were left with only 16 Knesset members.
Statistician Rafi Smith of the Smith Institute says that left-wing voters supported prime ministerial hopeful Tzipi Livni and not her party, Kadima. Forty percent of people who voted for Kadima decided to do so during the last two or three days of the campaign.
"Livni took a third of Labor's voters and more than a third of Meretz's voters. She attracted the entire left," said Smith.
This can be seen among the kibbutzim as well, where Kadima got 31 percent of the vote, compared to only 30.5 percent for Labor. Meanwhile, a quarter of the people who voted for Likud had originally supported Kadima.
Voter turnout was 65.2 percent, almost two percent higher than in the 2006 elections. In practice, turnout was more than 70 percent, because 10 to 12 percent of the people on the electoral rolls are abroad, Smith said.
Smith called the election results "a total victory for the right," noting that 43 percent of Jewish Israelis consider themselves right-wing or center-right, another 24 percent consider themselves centrist, and only 18 percent consider themselves left-wing or center-left.
About half of Yisrael Beiteinu's votes came from immigrants. The party garnered only 15 or 16 seats - not the 17 to 18 predicted by opinion surveys - because veteran Israelis jumped ship at the last minute. In peripheral communities, Lieberman's party attracted 21 percent of the vote, while Shas drew 17 percent.
With regard to the Israeli Arab vote, fears of an electoral boycott proved to be unfounded, even though turnout was down slightly. Regardless, Arab parties might actually find themselves with a larger Knesset presence, from 10 to 11 seats. This is because many Arab voters shifted their support from Jewish to Arab parties, as well as the large number of Jews who voted for Hadash due to the popularity of Jewish MK Dov Khenin.