Poll: Hamas Victory Did Not Affect Kadima, but Weakened Likud

According to Haaretz-Channel 10 poll, Kadima gets 43 seats, Labor 21 and Likud 13 in Knesset election.

A month after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left the public stage and a week after Hamas's victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, an Haaretz-Channel 10 poll reveals Israeli voters remain consistent in their positions and voting intentions.

The poll was conducted on Tuesday by Dialog under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs. Six hundred fifty people were surveyed.

It is quite boring to recite: Had the elections taken place now, Kadima, which last week presented its impressive Knesset candidate list, would have won 43 seats (one seat less than in the previous week) and Labor would have won 21 seats (no change). The Hamas' victory did not strengthen Likud as predicted, and the party even lost a seat compared to last week (13 seats compared to 14).

No major changes were listed in the situation of the rest of the parties. Green Leaf, which last week almost reached the election threshold is now buried under it and Uzi Dayan's Tafnit, which may have Ehud Barak as its chairman, is nowhere near the election threshold.

Zehava Gal-On, fourth on Meretz-Yahad's candidate list, who last week remained out of the Knesset, returns to it this week. This is good news for the Knesset.

With less than two months to the elections, and after all the turmoil and dramas, the picture remains almost unchanged: Kadima remains strong, the Likud is struggling to get MK Uzi Landau, 14th on its list, into the Knesset, and Labor fails to win an additional seat to the number of seats it had in the 16th Knesset.

The fear campaign against Hamas that Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers hurried to launch did not benefit the party. Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz's odd statement that the recent development within the Palestinian Authority would erase the differences between Labor and Kadima and clear the stage for a "social agenda" didn't help Labor either.

The Likud wins this week's failure index big time: If Likud failed to win back disappointed Likud voters (21 votes) even after the Palestinian upheaval, what will bring them back home? Certainly not their nostalgia for Uzi Landau.

However, 32 percent of the respondents said that "there is a chance" that they would change their minds by election day. What could change the way they vote, and in which direction, nobody knows.

The freeze in the seat distribution can be explained by the answers given to the following question: "Have you changed your decision regarding which party you would vote for following Hamas' victory?" Only five percent of the respondents - a negligible number - answered this question positively.

Where do we see a certain change? In the public's attitude towards Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who inherited Sharon as Kadima's leader. When the public was asked to score his functioning, there was no significant change to the score he received last week (6.52 compared to 6.47 on a scale of 1 to10). But when Olmert's status is compared to his two rivals, Netanyahu and Peretz, in the question of suitability to the role of prime minister, the data reflects a significant decrease in Olmert's stand, which benefits Peretz: Olmert gets 33 percent this week while Peretz receives 22 percent. Three weeks ago Olmert got 44 percent and Peretz only 13 percent. There is almost no change in Netanyahu's results.

However, Olmert shouldn't be too worried. His status remains strong among Kadima voters.

The survey was carried out before Wednesday's Amona outpost evacuation, so the violent clashes between settlers and security forces are not expressed in the poll, but it is doubtful whether the picture would have changed had the poll been carried out on Wednesday rather than Tuesday.

Since apparently there will be no further evacuations until the March 28 elections, the influence of Wednesday's violence will fade away quickly, as did the disengagement from Gush Katif, which was forgotten by the public a week later. Kadima is still enjoying its fruits.

Kadima is convinced that that polls, which week after week give it over 40 seats, are not lying, and that this would be the election result. In such an event Olmert, who would be elected as prime minister, will be able in a short time to easily form a stable coalition with Labor and the ultra-Orthodox parties, or with Likud and the ultra-Orthodox parties. Such a scenario would enable Kadima to hold on to its three major portfolios: finance, defense and foreign affairs.

A senior Kadima official said this week that in such a scenario Shaul Mofaz would remain defense minister, Tzipi Livni would remain foreign minister and the major fight would be waged on the treasury, apparently between Meir Sheetrit who was finance minister in 1999 and a minister in the treasury in 2003, and between Abraham Hirchson, Olmert's close associate.