Likud Surges, Still Behind Labor, Kadima

A week after the Likud Central Committee elected the party's Knesset slate - and despite the tension between Benjamin Netanyahu, Limor Livnat and Silvan Shalom - Likud won four more seats in the polls, scoring a total of 17, according to a Haaretz-Channel 10 survey carried out Wednesday night.

Nonetheless, Likud is lagging behind the Labor Party, which has 19 seats, a three-seat increase since last week's poll. Kadima, though, is still by far the most popular party, remaining over the 40-seat mark even though it lost three seats. The survey, conducted by the Dialog pollster under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs, is based on the responses of 625 people.

Shinui seems to be disappearing below the electoral threshold, although the popularity of the rest of the parties remains relatively stable.

It is too early to tell whether the Likud and Labor are beginning to recover from the losses sustained by the establishment of Kadima, or whether their gains are a temporary blip. In any case, the spotlight will be back on Kadima next week or the week after, when it presents its Knesset slate. Since both Likud and Labor have already compiled their Knesset slates, and since the Kadima list is fairly well-known even though it has not been made official, this week's poll asked respondents whether they thought parties should put a greater emphasis on the leader of the party or on its top Knesset candidates.

The poll showed that Likud candidates are the ones least admired by their constituency. Only about a third of Likud voters want the candidates emphasized, compared to 42.5 percent who would prefer to see the party leader, Netanyahu, given prominent play. In Kadima and Labor, the trend is reversed: Some 60 percent think the major players in the party, rather than Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz, respectively, should be given top billing.

However, the results do not necessarily indicate that Kadima voters are not pleased with Olmert. When asked whether they agree with the sentence, "Olmert is Sharon's successor," 73 percent said they did. Among the overall population, though, only half of all respondents see Olmert as Sharon's heir. This too, is a positive result from Olmert's perspective.

Some 46 percent of respondents support the top Kadima candidates, compared to 23 percent for Labor and 18 percent for Likud. The Kadima team, which includes Olmert, Shimon Peres, Tzipi Livni, Meir Sheetrit and Avi Dichter, is relatively well-admired by Labor and Likud voters, not just Kadima ones. The Likud list, on the other hand, wins support from a measly 0 percent to 3 percent of Labor and Kadima voters.