Polls: Labor, Green Leaf Have Same Percentage of Young Voters

Despite the revolution in the Labor Party and the changed composition of its voters, it has remained a party that does not appeal to the young, according to Haaretz-Channel 10 polls conducted by the Dialog company in the last few weeks.

Perhaps the messages of social justice and equality do not speak to young people, perhaps they are rejecting party chair Amir Peretz - or more likely, perhaps both explanations hold true.

Prof. Camil Fuchs, who supervised the polls, analyzed three polls conducted in the last three weeks and found that 6 percent of people aged 18-24 were planning to vote for Labor - the same proportion of voters in that age group planning to vote for the Green Leaf party, known primarily for its goal of legalizing marijuana. The proportion of voters aged 25-34 who are planning to vote Labor is barely any higher: only 7 percent. Senior citizens, however, are about three times as likely to choose Labor, which is expected to win the votes of 19 percent of people aged 65 and older. Other polls show even less support for Labor among the young.

According to pollster Rafi Smith of the Smith Institute, Labor is getting only 4 percent of the votes of people aged 29 and younger, the same amount as Meretz-Yachad. "Labor is beginning to appear as it did in the past - as a party without young people," said Smith. "It has a very serious problem. Its voters are still mostly older than 50."

However, polls conducted by Prof. Ephraim Yaar from the Peace Index survey project show more or less uniform support for Labor - between 7 percent and 9 percent - among all age groups.

10 percent for UTJ

Kadima is clearly in the lead among all age groups, but the party's level of support rises with the age of the voter. A Haaretz-Channel 10 poll shows that 21 percent of voters up to the age of 24 support Kadima, compared to 26 percent of those aged 65 and above. The Likud, by contrast, has more support among young people - 16 percent of votes in the 18-24 category - than among the population at large (10 percent).

Green Leaf appears to have a solid youth base (6 percent in the 18-24 category and 2.5 percent in the 25-34 range), although it is not likely to win enough votes to get into the Knesset. The Smith polls give Green Leaf more than 5 percent among voters aged 18-29. However, barely anyone past 35 supports the party.

Support for the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi party United Torah Judaism stands at 5.5 percent among the population at large, but between 9 and 10 percent of young people are expected to vote for it. This statistic appears to relate to the ultra-Orthodox fertility rate, and foreshadows the rapid growth UTJ can expect in future elections.

Not interested

The last national elections, in 2003, had a voter turnout of 68 percent, which is low in comparison to the 1999 turnout of 79 percent. If the voter turnout this time around is similar to that in 2003, it will largely be due to the absence of young people at the voting booths. Forty-five percent of people aged 18-32 either think they won't vote or are sure they won't, 44 percent are planning to vote, and 11 percent don't know, according to a poll conducted by Maagar Mochot on behalf of the One Voice movement, which is working to increase the influence of the moderate majority. The poll shows that young secular Israelis are the least likely to show up at the polls: Nearly two-thirds aren't planning to vote. These statistics are particularly significant because people between the ages of 18 and 32 constitute nearly a third of eligible voters, and their votes could affect who occupies some 40 Knesset seats.

Nonetheless, the poll shows that less than half - 46 percent - of young people think their vote matters, and only 27 percent are interested in the elections. The poll also reveals that the primary source of information about politicians for one out of every five young eligible voters is the satirical television program "Eretz Nehederet" ("Wonderful Country").