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Posts Tagged ‘polls’

Israel’s Political Map As Confusing As Ever

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

JERUSALEM – While it is almost certain that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next Israeli coalition government, the country’s confusing electoral system has created another medley of instant political parties headed by a variety of media celebrities and scorned politicians.

After a six-month absence from politics following her ouster as Kadima Party leader by former defense minister Shaul Mofaz, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni has returned to the political fray as head of a new centrist party, Hatenuah (the Movement). She is in line to win up to nine seats in the upcoming elections, according to the latest polls.

Livni is likely to compete for support within the ideologically middle political ground with the revamped Labor Party, led by former journalist Shelly Yachimovich, and former TV talk show host Yair Lapid’s new Yesh Atid (There’s a Future) Party.

For its part, the Mofaz-led Kadima, with the current Knesset’s largest faction (28 seats), is not expected to win any seats come January, according to the latest surveys.

Netanyahu’s mounting economic and foreign policy problems have impacted his united Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu electoral faction, as many nationalistic and centrist voters are leaning toward supporting some of the overhauled or new political factions. The latest Smith Research poll, conducted for The Jerusalem Post and the Globes business daily, found that the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list will receive no more than 37 Knesset mandates, down from their current combined total of 42.

But the newly constituted Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party, which absorbed the National Religious Party/National Union and is now led by former hi-tech mogul and Yesha Council executive Naftali Bennett, has the potential to secure 11 Knesset seats (up from seven), according to the Smith Research poll. The nationalist, pro-settler Bayit Yehudi Party will almost certainly be a key member of Netanyahu’s expected new coalition government.

Another key coalition member, the Sephardic Shas Party, could be hampered by the return of party leader Aryeh Deri after a 13-year absence due to a bribery conviction and jail sentence while serving as interior minister and the emergence of current Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem’s breakaway Am Shalem (Entire Nation) Sephardic faction. Rabbi Amsalem has publicly said that he would like to participate in forming the next government, even though his fledgling party is anticipated to receive only three or four Knesset seats, as per most polls.

Lapid, claiming that his Yesh Atid party is not “leftist,” is reported to have put out feelers to Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beiteinu’s leader, in an effort to portray his party as a potential coalition partner as well. Yesh Atid is projected to capture 10-12 Knesset seats.

Yachimovich’s revitalized Labor Party appears to be in line to become the nation’s opposition voice, as the center-left faction could receive 20 or more Knesset seats.

According to all polls, there will be almost no change in the number of seats (currently five) now held by United Torah Judaism. Despite the fact that the haredi community represents the fastest-growing segment of Israeli society, infighting between the various Litvish and chassidic courts have soured many frum voters from the idea of voting for United Torah Judaism.

A Big-Time Pollster In The Making?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I come across Yair Michaeli standing amid the bustle of an Israeli shopping mall, a clipboard in his hand. He appears to be a serious-minded Israeli haredi. What is he doing in a place like this?

Yair, a 22-year-old graduate of prestigious Lithuanian and Sephardic yeshivot, is a licensed realtor but hopes one day to be the man all Israeli politicians turn to at election time – the premier pollster of Israeli politics.

“I was always interested in politics, even as a child,” says Yair. “First I made personal connections with all the haredi and religious parties and their leaders. Eventually I became interested in all the parties. Israeli politics is an amazing mix of personalities, ideologies and sheer energy. It is the most fascinating political process in the world, without a doubt.”

“So,” I ask him, “what is your method for polling?”

“As you know,” he replies, “there are many others working in the field, and there is no shortage of polls. First I gather all the recent polls done by other groups and factor the results together, arriving at an average score for each party running. Then I use my own special method.”

“Which is what?” I ask.

“Other pollsters try to get a random sampling of the population based on all kinds of statistical models. Then they call people on the phone. However, many people when polled by telephone don’t respond seriously. Sometimes the questions don’t resonate. So the results are inaccurate. What I do is more down to earth. I choose a sampling of locations and take my teams directly to places where people naturally come together. There we ask the relevant questions face to face. People get to consider the questions carefully and ask for explanations or clarifications.”

I look at him questioningly. “Is this really a superior method?”

“In a face-to-face encounter you can always see if someone is being serious with you or not,” he sys. “Sometimes people share their thoughts and feelings, and we take special note of this information. After tabulating the responses, we can see how far our results correlate with or diverge from the other polls. Sometimes there are big differences, which make us go back and retry our polling method. When we retry several times and our results remain consistent, we know we are on to something important which the other pollsters might have missed.”

As the Israeli election draws near, Yair works almost around the clock. He visits population centers and party activists. He is always eager to share his unique insights.

“In this upcoming election,” he says, “there are several new parties that have entered the race. This happens every election and ordinarily it is not statistically significant. New independent parties don’t usually register with Israeli voters. Most successful politicians have his or her power base in some pre-existing social context. This means that in Israeli politics the people end up getting more of the same old stuff term after term. But this time around it seems that something fundamental has shifted in voters’ attitudes. People are tired of running over the same ineffectual solutions time and time again. There is a breath of fresh air blowing this time, and I believe that at least one independent party has a fighting chance of getting into the next Knesset.”

“Which party is that?” I ask.

“The Calcala Party,” he responds. “But of course there are still lots of polls to be taken between now and Election Day, and Calcala has an uphill battle ahead of it.”

I ask him to sum up his own personal and professional goals.

“First, my goal is to provide accurate information to the politicians I consider worthy of my help. Second, I intend to become the main pollster for the Israeli political system.”

“You seem pretty confident,” I tell him.

“Yes, I’m confident I can do it. How? Well, if after the upcoming elections it turns out my polls were the most accurate at predicting the various parties’ performance, that will pretty much seal the matter.”

Maybe a little too skeptically, I press him: “So you really think you can pull this off?”

He replies with a smile: “Time will tell, time will tell.”

Netanyahu Forced to the Right by his Rank and File

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The Final Top-20 List

1. Gideon Sa’ar
2. Gilad Erdan
3. Silvan Shalom
4. Israel Katz
5. Danny Danon
6. Reuven Rivlin
7. Moshe Ya’alon
8. Zeev Elkin
9. Yariv Levin
10. Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
11. Haim Katz
12. Tzipi Hotovely
13. Miri Regev
14. Moshe Feiglin
15. Yuval Steinitz
16. Tzahi Hanegbi
17. Limor Livnat
18. Ofir Akunis
19. Gila Gamliel
20. Carmel Shama Hacohen

Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan, Avi Dichter and Benny Begin are out.

11:35 PM: The left wing of Likud was taken out of commission tonight, as well as Benny Begin, a right-winger who was ousted, most likely, for his support of obeying the Supreme Court in its decision on uprooting the community of Migron. It is important, however, to keep in mind that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the Chairman of the Likud party, has some freedom to rearrange some of the names on the list, in light of other considerations, such as realistic spots that must be reserved for women, immigrants, and minorities. Also, in the process of merging the Likud list with FM Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, Netanyahu may be able to move some of the names around with the support of the Likud election committee — as he has done in past elections.

But there is no doubt that the Likud has moved to the right, although the five men at the top of the list are more centrist than most of the men and women behind them in the top 20.

Certainly, it will be more difficult for Netanyahu to pursue a 2-state solution with this list in his camp, and certainly to form a coalition government with Labor or anyone from the left.

One unintended victim of the victory of the Likud’s right wing is expected to be the newly cobbled Jewish-Home / National Union list, which only two days ago received 14 seats by public opinion polls. The NRP list, headed by Naftali Bennet, was banking on religious Likud voters expressing their resentment at Netanyahu’s record on the settlements and the Gaza operation by voting NRP. Now, with names like Feiglin, Hotovely, Regev and Danon starring in the new Likud list, those voters are as likely to award their votes to a large, soundly right-wing party, instead of gambling on the national religious camp.

10:42 PM: Channel 2 has predicted that long-serving MKs and Likud ministers Dan Meridor and Benny Begin have not scored a realistic spot on the Likud list.

Knesset Chairman Reuven Rivlin in First Place. Transport Minister Haim Katz is in the top five. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar not in the top five.

Because of the “shidduch” with FM Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu, a realistic spot tonight is anything less than the 20th spot. This is because the two lists will merge in a “zipper” formation, or, if you will, alternate feed. This means that of the 35 “good” spots, only 20 will go to the Likud.

10:17 PM: In conversation with Walla, Jewish Leadership candidate Moshe Feiglin agreed that he has changed his tactics this time around, from “revolutionary” to “evolutionary” changes. He said he expected to win a realistic spot on the Likud list. When asked how many supporters he had managed to bring out, Feiglin answered: “many.”

The vote count, supervised by a judge, has begun.

10:05 PM: Moshe Feiglin is the star of the evening, as the TV cameras are following his every move. After many years in which his election to realistic spots on the Likud list have been suppressed, Feiglin appears to have made it.

9:05 PM: Channel 2 News cites a mega Deal between Transport Minister Chayim Katz (Aviation Industry) and Moshe Feiglin (Jewish Leadership) which appear to be cashing in on their superior organizations.

The extension of the vote today was an attempt on the part of the powers that be in Likud to try and change the outcome, which appears destined to favor the pro-settlement wing of the party. Some rumors have blamed those same powers that be for the delays and the dysfunctional computer tally system.

8:50 PM: There is a general expectation tonight of turmoil, if not a tsunami, in the Likud. Since this morning, on the second day of voting in the Likud primary elections, declared last night because of irregularities and long lines at the polls, voting percentages were far lower than expected. In the first 6 hours of voting today, the polls received only about 3.5% of the electorate, compared to around 53% yesterday. So far, some 70 thousand have voting, or approximately 57% of the registered Likud members. Party officials now fear that the low percentage may mean a dramatic change in the list of chosen candidates.

According to Israel’s Channel 2 News, some Likud officials estimate that the more right-wing members, who are also better organized, have increase their strength in the current elections. According to some estimates, a number of MKs, including government ministers, may have been ejected from the list.

Two polls in Judea and Samaria which hadn’t opened to the public all day were the reason today’s vote was extended by one hour, to 10 PM.

We’ll keep you posted.

Weekly Polls: Pre-Gaza Polls Give Right 66.5 Knesset Seats

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Here’s, the average of 2 polls published last week, Channel 2 and Jerusalem Post. The Post poll was conducted November 12-13 and the Channel 2 poll was published November 14.

Current Knesset seats in [brackets], Week 5 average in (brackets):

37.0 (38.0) [42] Likud Beitenu

21.5 (22.3) [08] Labor

13.0 (11.0) [--] Yesh Atid

11.0 (09.0) [07] National Union-Jewish Home

11.0 (13.0) [10] Shas

5.0 (5.6) [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ

4.5 (3.3) [03] Meretz

3.5 (3.6) [04] Hadash

3.5 (3.0) [03] Balad

3.0 (3.3) [04] Ra’am-Ta’al

2.5 (3.6) [01] Am Shalem

2.5 (1.6) [05] Independence

2.0 (2.3) [28] Kadima

66.5 (69) [65] Right

53.5 (51) [55] Center-Left

Visit KnessetJeremy.com.

National Union Chooses MKs; Uri Ariel Replaces Katz as Party Chair

Monday, November 19th, 2012
תקומה

Logo of the Tekuma Party, the last remaining faction of the National Union.

MK Uri Ariel was selected for the lead spot in the Tekuma party, making him the new chairman of the National Union, replacing MK Ya’akov Katz.

The Tekuma party was the last remaining party of the National Union, after MK Aryeh Eldad and firebrand MK Michael Ben Ari deserted the party due to its merger agreement with the Jewish Home party.

Eldad and Ben Ari complained that they were being forced out by being placed at unrealistic spots on the list in a deal that Katz had brokered.

The two left and formed a new party “Otzma L’Yisrael” (Strength to Israel).

Ariel has repeatedly said that he wants the two to return to the National Union.

Following Ariel, Tekuma/National Union’s list is as follows: former Rabbinical court judge Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, Zevulon Kalpa, Orit Strook, Hillel Horowitz, and General-Director of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Nachi Eyal.

The highest number of seats polls show the joint Jewish Home-National Union list is 13, making any further spots on the Tekuma list unrealistic, especially if Eldad and Ben Ari were to return and push other candidates further down.

 

J Street Boasting of Defeating Israel’s Friends, But its Relevance Is Questionable

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Given the large election majority received by President Obama and many other of their favored candidates, a reasonable morning-after position for a group such as J Street would be one of quiet satisfaction, or even – why not? – gleeful rejoicing.

But J Street, which has rarely met a critic of Israel it didn’t like, instead tried to promote itself as an integral part of the campaign, a driving wind propelling Democratic victories. So eager to claim a starring role, J Street released details of several exit polls they commissioned which, upon examination, tell far more about how little J Street matters.

But first, to refresh your memory regarding the quality of candidates supported by J Street:

In the Wisconsin race for U.S. Senator, the Democratic contender, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, defeated former Wisconsin governor Republican Tommy Thompson. Although Israel was not much of an issue in the race, the Emergency Committee for Israel, a staunchly pro-Israel organization with conservative political roots, aired an ad attacking what they called Baldwin’s anti-Israel position during her congressional career.

ECI said Baldwin was “nothing less than hostile to the U.S.-Israel alliance. She has accused Israel of war crimes, befriended anti-Israel groups, refused to sign bipartisan letters of support for Israel, and defended the libelous Goldstone Report.”

Yes, that was J Street’s candidate in that race.

J Street supported Cheri Bustos in the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, and she defeated Republican Bobby Schilling. Unlike Baldwin, Bustos has nothing whatsover to say about foreign policy. Her issues are jobs, the economy, Medicare and Social Security, and the second Amendment. But in losing Schilling, Israel has lost a great friend in Congress, with a 0 rating by the Arab American Institute.

There goes another J Street-targeted friend of Israel.

And, as was to by expected, J Street threw their support behind the CAIR and Hamas man in Washington, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota. He is a regular at CAIR fundraisers and pro-Hamas rallies. A former member in Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, Ellison has also participated, later in life, in interfaith dialogue (mostly with Reform rabbis). Even if we were to discard past accusations of Antisemitism and his defense of Farrakhan – what business does a Jewish PAC have supporting him?

J Street also supported Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, one of the most widely recognized anti-Israel members of Congress. With a +3 rating by the Arab American Institute, Dingell voted No on withholding US contributions until the UN retracts accusations of Israeli war crimes, on opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and Absent on a bill to ensure that United States taxpayer dollars are not used to fund terrorist entities in Lebanon. What point is J street making by giving him PAC money, and why are they so happy he won?

LITTLE ACTUAL INFLUENCE

The above short list demonstrates rather well J Street’s agenda in these elections, but the fact that candidates they supported have won does not mean that the organization’s contribution actually got them over the threshold.

J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, boasted in an email sent out to thousands with the subject line “Astounding! J Street Goes 71 for 70 on Election Day,” but with respect to Jewish voters—whom J Street claims it represents, and whom it is trying to persuade—in very few of the campaigns in which it contributed heavily did the Jewish voters who were in play make a difference.

In an upstate New York race, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) was defeated by the man she herself had defeated two years ago, Dan Maffei. J Street backed Maffei, but the hot issue in that race was abortion, not Israel. Maffei successfully tied Buerkle to Missouri’s Republican contender for Senator Todd Akin, notorious for his unfortunate “legitimate rape” comment.

In Florida, Republican Rep. Allen West was defeated by Patrick Murphy in an extremely tight race. West was redistricted out of his comfortable seat, and Israel was far down on the list of issues on which Murphy focused.

In Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth defeated sitting Congressman Joe Walsh. Walsh is an ardent Israel supporter, but the district they battled over is a majority Democratic one, and Duckworth had received the endorsement of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The focus of her attention was energy, the economy and education – not Israel.

And in Ohio, where Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown handily won over his upstart Republican challenger Josh Mandell, a New York Times editorial written by Mitt Romney back in 2oo8 probably did more to defeat any Ohio Republican challenger for office in 2012. In this state, second only to Michigan for auto-related employment, Romney’s opposition to the automobile industry bailout and his op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” was just too much of a kick in the home state face to overcome. Even though what Romney actually called for was a re-structuring of the car companies, a “managed bankruptcy,” the details were swept away while the headline hung there and hanged the Republicans.

It is clear that J Street’s role in this year’s election was basically irrelevant, and certainly far humbler than its own superlative: “astounding.” While revealing just how unabashedly anti-Israel their choices are, Ben-Ami et al simply have not demonstrated that they mobilized the Jewish vote in a direction it wasn’t already following.

DISMAYING POLL RESULTS

The Republican Jewish Coalition also released poll results, in which they tracked the same few Jews, in virtually the same ways, and received pretty much the same results.

In the broadest terms: Obama won. He won big amongst Jews. No argument from either group. According to the RJC, Romney received just under 32 percent of the votes cast by Jews, according to J Street, Romney received 30%. Not such a big difference.

Where the information and the analysis did begin to differ, was in determining whether there was a significant decrease in Jews voting for Obama this election, versus 2008. While most agreed that Barack Obama received approximately 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008, J Street is now claiming that a more recent calculation revised that number downwards to 74%. With the four fewer percentage points in 2008, and a two point lower estimate in 2012, the differences become more significant.

If, as the RJC claims, there was a 10% increase in Jews voting for the Republican presidential candidate, which amounts to a 50% gain (22% of American Jews cast their vote for McCain in 2008, and 32% of American Jews cast their vote for Romney in 2012), that reflects a recognizable and significantly growing trend, albeit with only two data points.

If you accept J Street’s sudden revision of historic facts, claiming that a greater percentage of Jews cast their votes for the Republican candidate in 2008, and, consequently, that somewhat fewer Jews voted for Romney this time around, the loss of Jewish voters to the Democratic candidate becomes only four percentage points, which means that over the lifetime of Obama’s “blocking back,” J Street, there have not been nearly as many Jews jumping from the Democrats’ ship.

Either way, of course, far fewer Jews cast their votes for President Obama this time around, and either way, of course, President Obama remains in office for four more years.

First, the information provided by the exit polls paints an alarming picture, even without looking at whom the respondents chose.

For Jewish Press readers, there’s a frightening picture that calls out for action: American voting Jews don’t care all that much about Israel, and they really don’t care about Israel’s number one concern: Iran.

The J Street and the RJC polls asked the question slightly differently, but either way, only about 10% of American Jews consider Israel to be an issue that drives their voting decisions (J Street poll), and for more than 21% Israel is of no importance in making the decision for whom to vote (RJC poll). To look on the bright side, slightly more than 75% consider Israel to be either very important (30.2%) or somewhat important (46.3%). But still, we are talking about Jews here, not the general public.

The denominational breakdown between the two polls is of vital interest: 11.9% of the RJC poll respondents identified as Orthodox and 31.1% identified as Conservative, while only 10% of the J Street poll respondents identified as Orthodox and 27% identified as Conservative. In both polls the largest denomination was the Reform movement.

Only the RJC poll asked about synagogue attendance, but the responses there were interesting. Slightly more than 25% of those answering the poll claimed they attend synagogue almost every day or once a week, but 13.9% said they never attend, and nearly 2% refused to answer the question.

One quirky finding is who received high favorability ratings. President Obama garnered a 60% favorability rating, the second highest of those included in the question (Bill Clinton received the highest). But Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a 59% rating, beating even Vice President Joe Biden, who came in with a 54% rating. And DNC Chair Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a 46% favorability rating — that’s far below any of the other Democrats, Netanyahu, or the Democratic Party as a whole.

Although Iran and Israel are not significant voting issues for American Jews, fewer than half of those polled think that sanctions and diplomacy as tools for dealing with Iran’s nuclear race should be given more time, and a full 35% think those methods have failed.

The RJC poll asked about respondents’ understanding of Barack Obama’s attitude towards Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Nearly 45% believe Barack Obama is more pro-Israel, 22.8% more pro-Palestinian, and 17.4 believes he is neutral, while a full 15.3 either refused to answer the question or said they did not know.

So, strangely enough, while J Street cannot show serious influence in this election, essentially cheering races that would have been won without them – the overall picture emerging from the polls of Jewish voters’ attitudes are an icy shower to American Jews with traditional Jewish values.

Yori Yanover contributed to this article.

Rep. West (R.) Demanding Hand Recount in Florida 18th

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy has already declared victory over Tea Party star Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. West trails Murphy by 2,500 votes in the official count.

But West for Congress campaign manager Tim Edson on Wednesday announced: “This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance. There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district.”

According to the West campaign, late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections “recounted” thousands of early ballots. Following that “recount” Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes.

The campaign also complained of numerous irregularities at polls across St. Lucie County. The doors to polling places were locked when the polls closed, in violation of Florida law, preventing the public from witnessing the tallying.

“The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor’s office last night could only be described as complete chaos,” said a campaign press release. “Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County. We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly will pursue all legal means necessary.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rep-west-r-demanding-hand-recount-in-florida-18th/2012/11/08/

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