Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party stands to garner a mere five seats in the Knesset, according to the Times of Israel’s new pre-election poll.
An analysis of the data reveals that her greatest challenge is the lack of a natural ideological, geographic, or issue-based group of voters from which to draw support.
Among all likely voters, there is a statistical split in views on Livni, with 38% having a positive opinion of her and 41% a negative opinion. But that positive rating, in turn, is split between 5% very positive and 33% somewhat positive, which shows a lack of intense support. Her negative rating is split 30% somewhat negative and 19% very negative.
Reviewing those figures by geographic district reveals the driver behind her negative ratings. Livni has a mixed positive and negative rating across the board except for voters living in the Jerusalem district, of whom 70% view her unfavorably.
Livni gets poorer ratings among voters who view the country as moving in the correct direction — with 31% of the optimists giving her a positive rating and 56% negative.
Among voters who view the country as moving in the wrong direction, the split is even, at 44% each positive and negative.
A voter’s self-described political ideology, left, center or right, is the real indication of Livni and Hatnua’s potential voters. Her support, unsurprisingly, is clearly highest on the center and the left. While right-wing voters give her a 19% positive and 69% negative rating, she gets a 56% positive and 36% negative among the center, and 50% positive and 37% negative on the left. It can be concluded that Hatnua is therefore competing for votes with Labor, Yesh Atid, and Meretz.
In terms of religious orientation, Livni’s favorability is based upon secular support. A full 64% of those who view her positively self-identify as secular Jews, with 22% identifying as traditional Jews, 6% as Orthodox Jews, and 6% as non-Jews. Notably, secular voters still remain the largest bloc of undecided voters when considered by religious affiliation, with 40% of them undecided. That’s where Livni still has the potential to grow.
So why has Hatnua failed to gain traction? Our data suggests that the former foreign minister’s campaign — which focuses on the political and diplomatic issues which were her domain when leading negotiations with the Palestinians in the Ehud Olmert government — sings a different tune from the one her potential supporters want to hear. Among six issues tested in the poll, 43% of voters who view Livni positively believe that economic issues are the most important issues facing the next government of Israel, while only 18% of those voters who view her positively say the deterioration of relations with the Palestinians is the key issue.
Indeed, of those voters who do intend to vote for Hatnua, 64% believe economic issues are the most important issues facing the next government, while 25% say the deterioration of relations with the Palestinians. None of Hatnua’s voters cited the Iranian threat or instability in the region as the most important issue facing the next government.
This is the fourth in a series of articles that The Times of Israel is publishing this week on the basis of our pre-election poll. Formulated by The Times of Israel and the author, from political consultancy firm (202) Strategies, with field work conducted by TRI-Strategic Research between December 25 and January 2, our survey is the most accurate publicly available poll to date, having questioned a relatively large sample of 803 likely voters — as opposed to the Hebrew media’s norm of 500 eligible voters. Of those 803, also in contrast to the Hebrew media norm, 10% of our surveys were conducted by cellphone, and another 10% were conducted in Arabic. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%, with a confidence level of 95%.
Stephan Miller, cited by Campaigns and Elections magazine in 2008 as “James Carville’s young protege,” is an American-Israeli public opinion research analyst and communications strategist, and a former adviser to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who has worked on campaigns in eight countries across three continents.