Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s and former foreign minister Avigdor
Liberman’s joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list continued its political tailspin,
falling to a new nadir of only 34 seats in a Smith Research survey this
The poll, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday for The Jerusalem Post
and the financial newspaper Globes, found that Likud and Yisrael Beytenu, which
together have 42 seats in the current Knesset, have fallen in support from 36
seats a week ago, 39 two weeks ago, and 46 when the parties were separate and at
their peak in August.
Two other polls released Thursday also found that
Likud Beytenu had fallen to 34 seats.
A Likud MK complained that the
Likud was not campaigning enough and that the party’s hawks were being hidden
despite the public moving rightward. Likud MKs blamed the party’s strategist,
Arthur Finkelstein, for misjudging the electorate.
“He thought we could
win without a campaign,” said the MK, who asked not to be identified. “Now we
woke up late, and we are being attacked on all sides.”
The latest trigger
for Likud Beytenu’s free fall was Netanyahu and other Likud leaders attacking
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett for saying his conscience would not permit
him, as a reserve soldier, to evacuate Jews from their homes in Judea and
Samaria. The Right saw the attacks as excessive and as opening fire on a
political ally inside the right-wing bloc.
Bayit Yehudi, which won only
three seats in 2009, rose from 10 to 11 seats last week, and to 14 this week,
according to the poll. Surprisingly, one-third of the former National Religious
Party’s voters define themselves as secular, and 40 percent of Bayit Yehudi’s
support comes from voters aged 30 and younger. The older voters get, the less
likely they are to vote for the party.
“Sometimes the older generation
marginalizes the youth of our country, saying they are only interested in iPads
and video games,” said Bayit Yehudi candidate Jeremy Gimpel, who is 14th on the
list. “The fact that we are the most popular party among young Israelis is
testimony that Israel’s next generation is as passionate and Zionist as
The poll predicts 18 seats for Labor, 11 for Shas, 10 each for
Yesh Atid and The Tzipi Livni Party, six for United Torah Judaism, four each for
Meretz, Hadash and Balad, three for the United Arab List-Ta’al, and two for Am
Five hundred people representing a statistical sample of the
adult Israeli population were interviewed by telephone for the poll, which has
an error margin of 4.5%.
A separate survey, which Panels conducted for
the weekend Hebrew newspaper Sof Hashavua, asked respondents whether the
likelihood they would vote for Bayit Yehudi had risen or fallen over the past
Among the general public, 15% said they were more likely to vote
for the party, and 11% said less likely.
Among Likud-Beytenu voters, the
numbers were equal, at 11%. Among Bayit Yehudi voters, 49% said more likely and
3% said less likely.
An analysis of Likud Beytenu’s voters by Panels
pollster Menahem Lazar found that out of the joint list’s 34 seats, only five of
them came from people who had voted Yisrael Beytenu in the 2009 election.
Yisrael Beytenu’s other 10 seats have been lost since the merger between the two
Another reason seen for the drop in Likud Beytenu’s support is
Liberman’s pending indictment. Among Likud Beytenu voters, 57% said law
enforcement authorities were wrongly pursuing him, 20% said they were being
fair, and 6% said they were being too easy on him.
The Panels poll
predicted 34 seats for Likud Beytenu, 18 for Labor, 14 for Bayit Yehudi, 10 each
for Yesh Atid and Shas, eight for Livni, six for UTJ, five for UAL-Ta’al, four
each for Meretz and Hadash, three for Strong Israel, and two each for Am Shalem
The poll of 530 respondents took place Tuesday and Wednesday
and had a margin of error of 4.3%.