New Election Poll Says Israelis Prefer Gantz Over Lapid as Head of Center-left Bloc

33 percent of respondents pick the former military chief, with 11 percent selecting the Yesh Atid chairman – while almost half choose none of the options

File photo: Benny Gantz mingles with people during an electoral campaign tour in the city of Rishon Letzion, February 1, 2019.
Thomas Coex/AFP

People would rather see Hosen L’Yisrael Chairman Benny Gantz at the head of a center-left bloc than Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid, according to a new survey published on Saturday night on Channel 12’s “Meet the Press.” Of those surveyed, 33 percent responded that Gantz would make a better leader of such a bloc, and 11 percent said Lapid would.

When asked about other possible leaders for a center-left bloc to run in the April 9 election, Labor chairman Avi Gabbay and Hatnuah’s chairwoman, MK Tzipi Livni each received 5 percent. Almost half of all respondents answered “none of the above” or that they had no opinion on the matter.

When asked want part of the political spectrum Hosen L’Yisrael was on, about 34 percent said the new party was farther to the left, and 26 percent associated it with the right, while 24 percent put it at the center.

The survey was conducted on January 30 by Mano Geva and Mina Tzemach of the Midgam Institute in cooperation with iPanel among 505 people in a representative sample of the population 18 years old or older. The margin of error is 4.4 percent.

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After Gantz’s speech kicking off his campaign on Tuesday night, sources in Yesh Atid said had said they weren’t rejecting the option of uniting, but also were not willing to relinquish the top spot on the slate. “It’s not a matter of ego,” one party member said, “but born from a clear understanding that there’s only one who can beat Netanyahu.

“Ultimately, the only question is who can defeat Netanyahu, not who's looking best at the half-time show, and the only one who can face him is Lapid,” a Yesh Atid source said. “Yesh Atid can eat Gantz’s party for breakfast,” a source said.

"Somewhere behind closed doors, there are discussions taking place," MK Meir Cohen told Haaretz when asked if Gantz would lead a united ticket. “I'm fully motivated to bring about a joint ticket headed by Lapid, but we're not ruling out Gantz as a worthy partner."  Cohen added that if something developed out of the talks, it would only happen at the end of the month.

Polls conducted after Gantz had launched his campaign indicated that his popularity had spiked while Yesh Atid’s had declined.  According to a poll conducted by the Israel News Corporation, a union between the two parties, headed by Gantz, would garner 35 Knesset seats, five more than Likud, but if Lapid headed the roster, it would only receive 30 seats to Likud’s 31. Gantz was also neck and neck with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in surveys asking respondents who would make the better prime minister.