Undecided Votes Increase to 24 Seats

29 days before election, number of 'floating voters' reaches all-time high.

The long and exhausting election campaign is nearly done - only 20 days are left - but the confusion among the voters has not diminished. On the contrary: Undecided voters left a total of 24 seats up for grabs in a Haaretz-Channel 10 poll conducted Tuesday night, compared to 17 seats last week.

The survey, conducted by the Dialog pollster under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs, also showed that Kadima's descent over the past three weeks has halted - even though it was this week that Channel 10 broadcast the "diaries of Omri Sharon," which shed light on the political appointments phenomenon that has contaminated some top Kadima officials. Kadima held on to its 37 seats this week. The Likud won two more seats, bringing it to 17 - apparently as a result of the decision to allow all party members to vote in the primaries, rather than leaving the Knesset list composition to the hated central committee. The Labor Party, however, has not managed to break through the 19-seat ceiling for more than a month.

If the trend continues, the Likud, which began with about 10 seats in the polls, is likely to surpass Labor, which started at 27-28 seats a week after Amir Peretz was elected party chairman.

The poll had a sample size of 605 respondents, with a margin of error of 4 percent.

Although it is less than three weeks before the elections, about a fifth of the voters still don't know who they will vote for. When pollsters prod the voters, asking them whom they are likely to elect, which parties they are considering and whom they voted for in the past, the pollsters divide up their answers according to the party they are deemed most likely to vote for, until all 120 Knesset seats are filled.

Expect the unexpected

But such a large amount of floating votes, such a short time before the elections, leaves room, theoretically at least, for surprises of all kinds: Likud and Labor voters returning en masse to their original parties, voters choosing parties on the far right or far left, or more voters jumping on the Kadima bandwagon to join the party that has a very high chance of forming the next government.

Meretz-Yachad, meanwhile, went down two seats, from six to four. The Green Leaf party, on the other hand, has now crossed the electoral threshold with two seats; at least one of those seats appears to have come from Meretz-Yachad. There was no significant change in the standing of the other parties.

The poll also asked respondents what they thought about the theoretical possibility that a Likud-Labor-right wing government could be formed after the elections to block Kadima. The vast majority - 58 percent - opposed such a move, and 21 percent supported it.

Most of the supporters are Likud or National Union-National Religious Party voters; the latter see this as the only chance for them to be represented in the government.

Although Labor was included in the hypothetical situation, 76 percent of Labor voters opposed the move.

Meanwhile, 48.5 percent of the respondents opposed a Kadima plan for a unilateral evacuation of additional West Bank settlements, which Kadima candidate and former Shin Bet security services chief Avi Dichter described at the beginning of the week. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents supported the plan. It was not clear whether all the respondents were familiar with the details of the plan, however.