Poll: Labor in Free Fall, Barak Can't Turn Things Around

Poll verifies assumption that Benjamin Netanyahu should hope for a victory for Shaul Mofaz in Kadima primary.

A month before the primary in Kadima, it seems that the man who led the move toward early elections for the leadership of the ruling party is also the biggest loser: Ehud Barak and Labor are continuing their free dive according to a Haaretz-Dialog poll held Tuesday.

According to the poll, were elections held today, Labor would only receive 12 seats in the Knesset if Kadima is led by Tzipi Livni, and 13 seats if Shaul Mofaz leads Kadima. The Labor leader, who changed his strategy and began talking, attacking and giving interviews, is unable to rescue his party from a low that it has never before experienced.

Meanwhile, Kadima is growing in strength, in great part because it is at the center of public attention. Kadima and those running for its leadership are in the headlines, and the media has focused its attention on them, at Labor's expense. Likud is nearly left untouched by this attention to Kadima.

This recent poll verifies some assumptions, but also contradicts others: It verifies the assumption that Benjamin Netanyahu should hope for a victory for Shaul Mofaz, who appears to draw less voters than Livni for Kadima. It also verifies the fact that if Livni wins in Kadima, she should aim for quick national elections in order to take advantage of her popularity. However, it contradicts the assumption that Barak and Labor will benefit from a victory for Mofaz, "the Likud man" in Kadima: Barak and Labor do not seem to benefit in any substantial way from any scenario.

When the two large political blocs are weighed - Likud and the right vs. the center and left - the poll suggests that the balance is on two-three seats in the Knesset. Likud with Netanyahu, and Kadima with Livni, are tied at 28 seats apiece. When Mofaz heads Kadima, the party takes 22 seats and Likud 30, and the pendulum moves in favor of the right.

Meanwhile, within Kadima the voters favor Livni: The gap between the two leading candidates is steadfast. Livni leads by 13 percent over Mofaz, and is even extending her lead among the 72,500 Kadima registered voters.

A poll among Kadima voters, also carried out Tuesday, suggests that barring a catastrophe, Livni stands a good chance of winning the leadership in the first round on September 17, by securing the required 40 percent of the vote.

The full results of the poll will be published tomorrow in Week's End.