Netanyahu ‘lighting the field on fire’ to outpace polls in final stretch

After not doing in-person events for much of the campaign, due to lockdowns, Netanyahu is now taking part in at least four rallies per day, the campaign official said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the 'Besheva' group in Jerusalem, March 14, 2021 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the annual Jerusalem Conference of the 'Besheva' group in Jerusalem, March 14, 2021
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
The Likud campaign is confident the party will do far better than the 28-29 seats it has been getting in recent polls, pointing at large numbers of undecided voters for other parties, a senior campaign official said Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working on targeting potential Likud voters by “setting the field on fire.” After not doing in-person events for much of the campaign due to lockdowns, Netanyahu is now taking part in at least four rallies per day, the campaign official said.
In addition, Netanyahu has been attending “green-passport events,” going where he can highlight the reopening of businesses after pandemic restrictions were lifted and to emphasize his role in getting large numbers of Israelis vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We’re focusing heavily on the economy,” the source said. “Just like he was obsessed with the vaccine, he’s now obsessed with the economy.”
Israeli pollsters call voters with low certainty in their choice “brittle,” and the Likud campaign is optimistic that they will end up with many of the other parties’ “brittle” votes. Netanyahu referred to the large number of uncertain votes among rival parties on the Right in an interview on Saturday night.
According to the Likud’s internal polling, more than 80% of those planning to vote Likud are certain about their vote. The average for all parties is 72%.
Only 29.5% of New Hope voters are certain, continuing a drastic week-to-week increase in “brittle” votes. Last week, 35% of those who said they would vote for New Hope were confident about their vote.
Uncertain New Hope voters tend to go to Yesh Atid. Yet, Likud views the party’s brittleness as a possible advantage. With numbers like that, the Likud campaign source said, there is a good chance that the party – founded by Gideon Sa’ar, a Likud minister turned Netanyahu rival, who has vowed not to support the prime minister – could “crash big-time” and drop below the 3.25% electoral threshold.
New Hope countered Likud’s numbers, with a spokesman accusing Netanyahu’s party of “sending violent squads of bullies to our events.”
“Likud would love you to think New Hope doesn’t pose a threat to Netanyahu’s continued rule, because they know very well that the only party that can replace Netanyahu and offer the Israeli people genuine change is Gideon Sa’ar and New Hope,” the spokesman said.
About half (51.3%) of Yamina voters were certain they would vote for the party led by Naftali Bennett, Likud polling found. The brittle Yamina voters would alternatively vote for Likud or the Religious Zionist Party, which is in the bloc supporting Netanyahu.
A Yamina source countered that their polling shows the party has 10 solid seats, which is three or four more than Likud’s polling, plus another three that could go to other parties. The source also said the party is the second choice for a plurality of Likud, New Hope and Religious Zionist Party voters, which gives Yamina potential for growth. Yamina’s polls confirm Likud’s assessment that New Hope’s votes are 70% brittle.
Yamina has not committed to supporting Netanyahu or someone else for prime minister, and sources in the party have said Bennett would demand a rotation for the premiership.
“There won’t be a rotation with me,” Netanyahu said at a conference of the religious-Zionist publishing group Besheva on Sunday. “There will be one head. Gideon [Sa’ar] and [Naftali] Bennett cannot form a government without [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid as prime minister.”
“Bennett says he wants to be prime minister,” he said. “How? Only in a rotation with Lapid... Lapid is praying that you will vote for Bennett.”
Bennett has said Yamina will not be in a government with Lapid at the helm.
Netanyahu said Bennett “will have an appropriate and respectable place in our government, but there won’t be a rotation with him.”
Other Likud ministers and lawmakers continued to play a minor role in the campaign compared to Netanyahu.
Transportation Minister Miri Regev restarted her “Miri Regev on the Road” tour, with a van that she takes around the country to meet voters, such as the market in her hometown Rosh Ha’ayin on Friday and in Ramle on Thursday. She also produces live videos for social media from inside the van.