An Israeli soldier chooses a ballot from behind a voting booth at an army base near the southern city of Ofakim March 15.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The results of the recent Israeli elections once again show us how influential the Israeli media is.
The number of seats the leftwing parties were expected to win was extremely high. The Left would not have achieved this success were it not for a media that leans strongly in one direction, that day after day flooded newspapers and TV stations with programs explaining why it would be ideal if the Left were to come into power. The media took every opportunity to demonstrate how anything was better than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remaining in power. And so many Israelis began saying that if they weren’t going to vote for a leftwing party, at least they’d vote for a party that didn’t support Bibi.
And yet, every time the nations sees election results in real-time, they reach the conclusion that in the end, the media has no impact on election results.
But this is just not true.
The media has a tremendous impact, although it would be an overstatement to say that it has a 100 percent impact.
Ultimately, newspaper readers and TV viewers use their own judgment when they go vote. Still, try to imagine what the election outcome would have been if all the newspapers, satire and talk shows, and TV personalities considered to be of high social ranking, were to be rightwing.
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Or even if all of the TV channels were balanced and equally sympathetic (or equally unsympathetic) to both sides and the two leading candidates.
When the election results became known, the usual expressions of surprise were uttered. In the morning it looked like the Left would win, but by the evening it was clear that the Right had been victorious. Once again the sample polls had been misleading and the country was shocked by the discrepancy between the polls and reality.
I, however, was not at all shocked, because I own a calculator and I always make the following calculation: I add five seats to whatever the Likud receives in the polls. I suggest that in the future, all research institutes should follow this method, too. If these institutions hold any respect for science, they need to say the following to every organization that requests a poll be carried out: Dear sirs, We surveyed 11,098 individuals, and the following are the results of our survey. But after you’ve reviewed the numbers, we must add the following: if you are interested in knowing the realistic numbers and not a fabricated truth, you must add five seats to the Likud.
This might seem like it is contrary to science, but if the actual results are repeatedly higher again and again, then maybe this is the correct calculation. Logic will prove itself right despite our best intentions.
I would like to take this opportunity to disclose to the research institutes and the media a phenomenon known as: Let’s deceive the polls. I personally know of people who do this. One person even proudly bragged to me about doing this. What happens is that people who voted for the Right tell the pollster they voted for the Left.
Why do they do this? This is how it was explained to me: “To confuse them. To make them think they know what’s going on and then when the results come in, boom! They get the shock of their life.”
It’s some sort of private protest that people wage against the media. Many Israelis have given up finding any fairness in the elections, and so they use their energy to try to make a candidate fail. From the comfort of their own living room, they can make fun of the political commentators on TV who tend to refer to rightwing candidates as “them.”
I don’t have any concrete data to know how prevalent this phenomenon is, or to know if voters on the Left also engage in this activity, but I do know that it exists. Maybe we need to take another poll in which we ask people, “Do you tend to give dishonest answers in polls?” and then we’ll know the true extent to this phenomenon. Or the exact opposite.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
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