Research shows Blue and White voter profiles closer to Yesh Atid than to New Hope

A new analysis breaks down voter profiles based on differing criteria, including ethnicity, income, political camp, religious observance, gender and age.

Blue and White party co-chairmen Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid at the party faction meeting during the opening session of the 22nd Knesset, following the September elections, October 3, 2019. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
Blue and White party co-chairmen Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid at the party faction meeting during the opening session of the 22nd Knesset, following the September elections, October 3, 2019.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

People who voted for the Blue and White Party in the last election have a demographic profile that is much closer to Yesh Atid voters than to New Hope’s, according to new research conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute.

The IDI research questions the wisdom of the merger between Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope, which was announced on July 10.

Gantz partnered with Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid during the first three elections of the current cycle, in April and September 2019, and in March 2020.

The research, conducted by IDI’s Prof. Tamar Hermann and Dr. Or Anabi, analyzed six public opinion polls that were carried out by the institute’s Viterbi Family Center since the beginning of the year. Each poll consisted of between 750 and 1,000 respondents.

The analysis focused on parties that are seen as Centrist, in an attempt to discern specific characteristics of these voters. These included Yesh Atid, Blue and White and New Hope. While New Hope identifies as a right-wing party, its merger with Blue and White symbolized a move to the Center and therefore was included in the study as well.

 New Hope Party head Gideon Sa'ar and Blue and White head Benny Gantz announce merger, July 10, 2022.  (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) New Hope Party head Gideon Sa'ar and Blue and White head Benny Gantz announce merger, July 10, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

The analysis broke down voter profiles based on differing criteria, including ethnicity, income, political camp, religious observance (based on self-definition), gender and age.

In terms of political camp, a clear divide existed between Yesh Atid and Blue and White on one side, and New Hope on the other.

Data from the analysis

Sixty-eight percent of New Hope voters defined themselves as belonging to the Right, with only 3% as Left and the rest as belonging to the Center. On the other hand, only 23% of Yesh Atid voters and 31% of Blue and White voters defined themselves as belonging to the right-wing camp. In both parties, approximately half defined themselves as Center, and another 20% as left-wing.

In terms of religious observance, both Yesh Atid and Blue and White voters were mostly secular, but Yesh Atid’s secular component was more predominant: 81% of Yesh Atid voters defined themselves as secular versus 17% as traditional, while 62% of Blue and White voters defined themselves as secular versus approximately a third who defined themselves as traditional. In New Hope, 45% said they were traditional.

The voters’ ethnicity and income broke down like their religious observance, with Yesh Atid on one end, New Hope on the other and Blue and White in the middle but slightly leaning toward Yesh Atid. Approximately half of Yesh Atid voters said they were Ashkenazim, versus a third of New Hope voters. Forty-five percent of New Hope voters identify as Mizrahim, and Blue and White was in the middle, but leaned closer toward Yesh Atid’s Ashkenazi majority.

THIS CORRELATED with the voters’ level of income, the study found, as 46% of Yesh Atid voters earned above average incomes, while among the three parties New Hope had the largest percentage of voters who earned below-average incomes. Blue and White was again in the middle.

The gender and age breakdown among the three party’s voters showed the voters of Blue and White and Yesh Atid were slightly older than New Hope’s.

The researchers concluded that the profile of Blue and White voters was closer to Yesh Atid than to New Hope, raising questions over the wisdom of the Gantz-Sa’ar merger.

“New Hope voters were basically Likudniks in a number of demographic characteristics, including socioeconomic, ethnic and how right-wing they were, and different from Blue and White’s voters,” said Anabi. “These are two groups that have discernible differences, and the question is if there could truly be a merger between these two groups and if they will be able to gain momentum and earn more in the polls than each party would have done independently. To put it lightly – despite the election still being far off – this does not seem to be the case.”

The researchers also gained insight into the fluid nature of Centrist voters.

“The Center of the Israeli political map is fluid, and until recently – and perhaps even now – did not develop a systematic and uniform ideological worldview, neither within the parties nor among the various parties that define themselves as Center,” Hermann wrote. “So, as a rule, in matters of security the parties are closer to the Right, and in issues such as religion and state to the Left. On economics on the right, and on civil rights and the preservation of democracy, on the left.”

Anabi said that “it is easier for someone who is at the edge of the [political] camp, whether Right or Left, because when you are in a corner it is easier to explain yourself to others. [Religious Zionism leader] Bezalel Smotrich does this excellently, as he succeeds in placing himself to the Right of the Likud. On the other hand, in the Center the point of reference is always in relation to the other parties, be it to the left or to the right, and parties need to show that they are unique and different. It is not incidental that for many years there was no dominant Centrist party in Israel, and those that tried did not last.”

Yesh Atid may be the exception, Anabi said, as it has consistently positioned itself in the Center for a decade.

“We see that in security and economic issues, the Center is much closer to the Likud and the Right. On the other hand, in liberal topics such as the separation of religion and state, Yesh Atid voters are much closer to Meretz. This is what makes the Center fluid – depending on the issue at hand, it can be close to both sides.”