Inside Kadima's campaign strategy

The campaign was divided into two sections: the organizational and the public relations effort.

kadima campaign banner 248 88  (photo credit: Courtesy)
kadima campaign banner 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Kadima election campaign was divided into two sections: the organizational and the public relations effort. The organizational team was subdivided into two teams: the months leading up to the election, headed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo; and the Election Day team headed by Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter. Aflalo was tasked with printing 5 million Kadima voting cards, appointing Kadima officials at the regional and city headquarters as well as monitors at the polling booths, and procuring 10,000 umbrellas with the Kadima logo printed on them [evidently Livni didn't get one as she was caught in the rain during the day]. Aflalo's team also produced and distributed fliers, posters, voting cards and other material to the Kadima functionaries across the country. The party had some 10,000 people at polling booths and Kadima offices across the country. Trying to squeeze every last possible voter in the allotted time, Dichter sent out instructions to make sure that all 10,000 Kadima people had voted. Aflalo's mistake was that he put some of these monitors at polling booths far away from the neighborhoods they were registered at, so Dichter's people worked that problem, and even made sure that the private security guards stationed at Kadima stations had voted. Aflalo's effort was generally successful, with a few complaints here and there of erroneous appointments and a lack of material at some Kadima stations, but generally he set things up nicely for Dichter's team to take over. Nobody credits Aflalo's efforts with edging Kadima closer to the Likud in the polls however. That goes to the dramatic rise of Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu, who chipped away consistently and effectively at Likud's voter base. On the public relations front [the one 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's 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," Dichter said. Despite the corruption scandals surrounding Olmert, former Finance Minister Avraham Hirshzon, MK Tzahi Hanegbi, and the sexual abuse case against Haim Ramon, Kadima has not only managed to survive, it has grown and laid down roots across the country, Dichter said. "In February 2006, at Tu Be Shvat, we established the Kadima forest near Omer in the south, and every year we go back to plant more trees. As Livni cast her ballot in Tel Aviv, the Kadima chairwoman vowed that victory was "within reach." "I know that the ballot I cast here was 'Ken' Kadima and I know that like me, many others will do so… It's close, it's within reach and what's most important is to go out and vote," said Livni, referring to the election code that appears on the ballot for her party. At Livni's Tel Aviv polling station, the Kadima chairwoman told party activists: "We're going to do this today. 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." For more of Amir's articles and posts, visit his personal blog Forecast Highs