Good organization and planning helped Kadima

But so did Israel Beiteinu, which seemed to rise at the expense of Likud.

kadima HQ reaction election 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
kadima HQ reaction election 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The election campaign of Kadima, shown by exit polls to have won the largest number of Knesset seats, was divided into two sections: organization and public relations. The organizational team was subdivided into two teams of its own: one for the months leading up to the election, headed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo, and another for Election Day itself, headed by Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. Aflalo was tasked with printing five million Kadima voting cards, appointing regional and local campaign officials, as well as polling station monitors, and procuring 10,000 umbrellas with the Kadima logo. (Evidently, Livni didn't get one, as she was caught in an Election Day downpour.) Aflalo's team also produced and distributed fliers, posters, voting cards and other material to Kadima functionaries across the country. In all, the party had some 10,000 people in Kadima offices and at polling stations across the country. Trying to squeeze every last possible vote in the allotted time, Dichter sent out instructions to make sure that all 10,000 Kadima campaign workers voted. His team tried to make sure that the party's monitors were assigned to polling stations near their own, and even made sure that the private security guards it had hired had voted. Aflalo's pre-vote efforts were generally successful, with a few complaints here and there about erroneous appointments and a lack of promotional material. But nobody is giving him credit for helping to close the projected gap with the Likud. Those kudos will go to the dramatic rise of Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu, which chipped away consistently and effectively at the Likud's voter base. On the public relations front seen by the population at large, strategists felt Kadima could have received at least five more mandates had Tzipi Livni been more disciplined, shot less from the hip and stuck more to the game plan. But the feeling is generally one of success. Kadima's strategy, and the central message of its campaign, was to convince the public that the election was about choosing between Livni and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. As Election Day loomed, Kadima remained steady, Lieberman rose and the Likud started to lose altitude. Kadima strategists intensified their message - "It's either Tzipi or Bibi" - to reach "strategic" voters who wanted to limit the size of the right-wing bloc. "We're a broadband party," Dichter told The Jerusalem Post. "We represent the center. Ehud Barak is the right wing of the Labor Party, and Binyamin Netanyahu is the left wing of the Likud. Both of those parties have tried to move into the center during the election campaign, but in truth, they are on opposite political poles. Livni is at the center of the centrist party." Despite the corruption scandals surrounding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former finance minister Avraham Hirschson and MK Tzahi Hanegbi, and the sexual harassment case against Haim Ramon, Kadima has not only managed to survive, it has grown and laid down roots across the country, Dichter said. Livni vowed that victory was "within reach" as she cast her ballot in Tel Aviv. "I know that the ballot I cast here was 'Ken' Kadima, and I know that like me, many others will do so," she said, referring to the party's ballot symbol, the letters chaf-noon, Hebrew for yes. "It's close, it's within reach and what's most important is to go out and vote." The Kadima chairwoman was upbeat with party activists at her polling station. "We're going to do this today," she told them. "Kadima is going to win, I know this and the public knows this... With God's help and with your help this is what will happen."