Jerusalem mayoral race is tight, ‘Post’ poll finds

47 percent support Barkat, while 41% back Lion, survey finds; the vote could be swung either way by the haredi vote.

Moshe Lion and Nir Barkat 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Moshe Lion and Nir Barkat 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Jerusalem mayoral race is much closer than previously thought, and could be swung either way by the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) vote, according to a Smith Research poll published on Thursday.
Incumbent Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat would only narrowly defeat his Likud Beytenu challenger Moshe Lion in the October 22 municipal election, the survey taken Tuesday and Wednesday for The Jerusalem Post and Globes found.
The poll of 800 respondents representing a sample of the adult population in Jerusalem found that 47 percent support Barkat, 41% back Lion, 3% say they would vote for haredi candidate Haim Epstein and 9% are undecided. The poll had a margin of error of a 3.5 percentage points.
The numbers were very different than those of a Ma’agar Mohot poll published in Ma’ariv last week which found that 42 percent supported Barkat, 14% backed Lion, and 43% were still undecided. That poll had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.
Since last week, different haredi rabbis have instructed their followers whom to vote for, eliminating a large portion of the undecided vote.
Pollster Rafi Smith said his poll indicated that the victor of the race is likely to be decided by the turnout in each of the city’s sectors.
Political sources told the Post that the coveted haredi vote is splintered or undecided, and that that sector might be decisive in swinging the vote toward one of the candidates.
Barkat needs as many secular voters to come to the polls as possible, while Lion is counting on votes from the Sephardi underclass and Lithuanian haredim.
When Smith asked what list of candidates respondents would back for city council, 20 percent of respondents were undecided. Of the 31 seats on the city council, the poll found that between nine and 10 would go to United Torah Judaism, while Barkat’s Jerusalem Will Succeed party would win five to six. Additionally, four would go to Shas, two to three each for Meretz, Hitorerut, and Likud Beytenu, two to Yerushalmim and Bayit Yehudi and one or two to Bnei Torah and the United Jerusalem List of former deputy mayor Shmuel Shkedi and right-wing activist Arieh King.Dan Eisenbud contributed to this report.