Still, that is down from the approximate 50 or more polls had predicted. It’s too early to say why, it’s probably a combination of the fact that secular supporters of Yisrael Beitenu voted for Lapid and the Likud’s attacks on the Jewish Home contributed to that (e.g., voters who supported Yisrael Beitenu, but would have voted Jewish Home, switched to Lapid when they realized that Jewish Home’s list was comprised of the religious-right) and may have caused other voters to simply stay home (as Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach has now suggested).
Another contributing factor was Power fo Israel, which was just short of the voting threshold, which is two percent or a little over two Knesset seats. Those two seats (or 1.5 seats after redistribution of the votes) were lost to the Right. While I am sorry to see Aryeh Eldad go, he and Ben Ari made a major tactical error when they refused to join the Jewish Home. They would have been better served had they stayed on board and split off from the faction after the election (assuming they would not sit in a Netanyahu government on moral grounds).
* All is not lost for the Likud as the 31 mandates it garnered this time with Yisrael Beitenu, can be converted into pure Likud mandates in the next election. These voters put “Machal” (the Likud’s election-slip) in the ballot. Liberman was absent during the campaign. They were essentially voting for the Likud-Netanyahu. Yisrael Beitenu may have 11 Knesset members, but it may disappear in the next elections. The question is whether it can be absorbed by the Likud in a manner that is fair to the Likud – integrating the Beitenu members into the Likud’s primaries – and agreeable to Liberman.
* As a final point, this election was a disaster for the large party concept, which is very important to government stability, foreign policy, and pushing an agenda. The largest party is 31 seats, which is not that large, and it’s not really one party. On the Left, Labor failed to present itself as the main opposition and become a 20+ seat party. Lapid garnered 19, but so far, he has not spoken about leading the opposition (and it’s hard to see either Yachimovitch or Livni agreeing to it) and it’s not clear that this is something he can repeat. The temptation provided by Israel’s political system to the voter – to vote for a party that most closely resembles themselves, even if it comes at the expenses of good government for all – seems simply too great for the average citizen to resist.