Hamas Victory Weakens Likud, but Kadima Still Flying High

One month after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon departed the stage and a week after Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections, Israelis have not changed their voting intentions.

Only 5 percent of those questioned in a Haaretz-Channel 10 sample poll said they changed their decision over which party they would vote for following Hamas' victory.

The poll of 615 people was conducted by Dialog, under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, on Tuesday.

If elections were held today, Kadima, which submitted its list for the 17th Knesset this week, would get 43 seats, one less than last week; Labor remained unchanged with 21 seats; and while Likud thought it would be strengthened by the Palestinian election result, in fact it fell by one seat to 13.

The other parties recorded no substantial changes: Green Leaf, which last week was scraping the vote threshold, fell beneath it, while Uzi Dayan's Tafnit, which may get a new chair, Ehud Barak, is not even close to the vote threshold. Meretz increased by one seat to four.

An increase or decrease of one seat is within the margin of error.

With less than two months till the elections, Kadima remains firmly at the top, the Likud is fighting tooth and nail to get Uzi Landau, who is number 14, into the next Knesset, and Labor is staying steady.

Netanyahu's Hamas scare tactics did not benefit the Likud, while Labor was not helped by Amir Peretz's claim that developments in the Palestinian Authority erase the differences between Labor and Kadima and clear the field for "the social agenda." On the weekly loser meter, the Likud scored big: if even after the Palestinian upset, Likud voters who switched to Kadima are not rushing home, what will bring them back?

However, 32 percent of respondents said "there is a chance" they will change their vote by election day. What could make them change their vote, and in which direction? There is no way of knowing.

Where there has been some change is in the public's attitude toward Acting Prime Minister and Kadima chair Ehud Olmert. Olmert scored essentially the same as last week regarding his functioning (6.52 compared to 6.47, on a scale of 1-10). But when tested against Netanyahu and Peretz for suitability to be prime minister, the data reflect a substantial decline for Olmert: 33 percent compared to 22 percent to Peretz. Three weeks ago, Olmert received 44 percent to Peretz's 13 percent. Netanyahu registered hardly any change.

But Olmert does not have to be overly worried: among Kadima voters, his standing remained as strong as before.

The poll was conducted prior to yesterday's evacuation of the illegal buildings at Amona. But it is highly doubtful a different picture would have emerged had the poll been conducted last night instead.