Profiles of Likud and Yesh Atid voters show that their voters have significantly different self-identities, and not just differing political beliefs, and are nearly diametrically opposed in religious definition, ethnic grouping, political camp and monthly income, according to a study by the Israel Democracy Institute.
The two parties are expected to be the largest in the coming election, with Yesh Atid predicted to receive between 22 and 24 seats, and Likud expected to garner 34 to 36 seats.
The analysis focused on six different criteria: political camp on the spectrum from Left to Right, ethnic definition, religious definition, monthly income, age and sex.
The starkest difference between the two parties was in religious definition, with 81.1% of Yesh Atid voters defining themselves as “secular,” versus just 28.1% in the Likud. A total of 5.6% of Yesh Atid voters said they were either “haredi,” “religious” or “traditional-religious,” versus 36.9% in the Likud.
In terms of ethnic self-definition, nearly 50% of Yesh Atid voters identified as Ashkenazi versus 20.7% in the Likud. On the flip side, nearly 25% of Yesh Atid voters identified as Sephardi, versus 58.1% of Likud voters. This in fact was the highest percentage of Sephardi voters out of any party other than Shas.
The two parties also showed stark differences regarding their electorates’ finances. Approximately 45% of Yesh Atid voters said they earned an above-average salary versus 29% among Likud voters, and vice versa. Some 46% of Likud voters reported below-average salaries, versus just 29.7% of Yesh Atid voters.
The two parties’ voters strongly differed in terms of political camp, but this is to be expected. Nearly 80% of Likud voters defined themselves as being right-wing versus just 8.2% of Yesh Atid voters. More than 55% of Yesh Atid voters said they were in the center politically, and an additional 20% were either moderate Left or left wing. In contrast, the sum of Likud voters who were either in the Center, moderate Left or Left was 6.7%.
There was also a difference in the age of each parties’ voters, albeit not as significant a difference as in other categories. Approximately 45% of Yesh Atid’s electorate came from people over the age of 55, versus 35% between the ages 35 and 54, and just under 20% between 18 and 34. The Likud’s electorate was slightly more evenly spread, with approximately 29% over the age of 55, 37% between the ages 34-54, and 34% between 18 and 34 years old.
Looking broadly at all of the Jewish parties and not just the two largest ones, IDI’s Prof. Tamar Hermann and Dr. Or Anabi, who conducted the survey, noticed a number of additional trends.
Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina stood out in two categories relative to the other right-wing parties that made up the coalition, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu: political camp and religious affiliation.
Nearly 90% of Yamina voters said they were either “Right wing” or “moderate Right.” This was far higher than New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu voters, approximately only 70% of whom said the same. More than a quarter of both New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu’s voters identified as being in the political Center, versus under 10% of Yamina voters.
Regarding religious affiliation, more than 50% of Yamina voters were either religious, traditional-religious or haredi. The next highest was New Hope with just under 14% in those categories, and then Blue and White at 13%. Yisrael Beytenu, while ideologically Right wing, does not have a strong religious electorate, with less than 8% of its voters identifying as such.
These differences might help in explaining the difficulties of the short-lived Bennet-Lapid government, with a prime minister coming from a party whose voters were far from the coalition’s other right-wing parties, the authors hypothesized.
In terms of voters’ sex, most of the parties split close to 50-50, but in some, the differences were noticeable. Unsurprisingly, feminist icon, Labor Party chair and the only woman party leader Merav Michaeli attracted many women voters, and her electorate was almost 60% women. A large portion of these voters came at the expense of Meretz, where 55% of its voters were men.
Two other parties stood out with a majority of male voters: Yisrael Beytenu (62.6%) and Religious Zionist (62.1%).
Hermann and 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, and on each issue the aggregate number of responders was between 200 for small parties and 1,000 for large ones.