Survey: social-issues party could gain 36 seats

A new party that would focus on social issues could get up to 36 seats in Knesset, according to a new survey by the polling group Geocartography that was reported today in the Hebrew press. Reports emphasized that Shas stands to lose the greatest percentage of its votes: 40%. Kadima and Israel Beitenu (Lieberman) come in next – each stands to suffer a 36% loss to such a party. Here are the full potential losses for each party, according to this poll:

Shas: 42%

Kadima: 36%

Israel Beitenu: 36%

Labor: 35%

Likud: 25%

Jewish Home: 22%

Meretz: 20%

National Unity: 8%

United Torah Judaism: 6%

Among undecided voters, about 37% might vote for a new socially oriented party. There was no mention in these reports of Arab parties (nor did they provide enough details to know if the survey included Arabs in the sample).

A few observations:

-The high number  of Knesset seats represents more than either of the two largest parties in Knesset today: Kadima received 22.5% of the vote in 2009, and Likud got 21.6%, giving them 28 and 27 seats, respectively. Although Likud has gained some points over Kadima in most recent surveys, in a May survey Likud’s highest result was 34 Knesset seats; in a survey from early August published in the religious newspaper Makor Rishon, Likud got 29 and Kadima got 25.

– The J14 protests led to high speculation about the potential political impact. I have wondered if people would actually, finally, begin voting on issues other than security or the conflict, and how many new party formations might arise from the movement. At the very least, many others are wondering if this could shake Netanyahu’s government. Since the basic electoral dynamics seen in most surveys up to the protests showed a fairly stable political map, largely reflecting the results of the 2009 elections, the survey does seem to point to a potential electoral shift. But as the head of Geocartography Prof. Avi Dagani pointed out, with no elections yet in sight this is still hypothetical.

-Looking at the results of the last elections, I thought it would be interesting to calculate what kind of political makeup such a party might have. Adding up the absolute number of votes each party received in 2009, and calculating the relevant percentage of defectors gave me a total number of 893,755 votes for the new party, based on the 2009 turnout (I didn’t bother with undecided survey respondents – since the reports didn’t cite how many there were) .

Of these, 46% of the new party would be from left-leaning parties (including Kadima, if I must – since my research consistently shows that Kadima voters view themselves and the party as center-left) and 54% from the right.

Here’s how the new party-voters would break down, according to past vote (2009, self-reported)

31% would be former Kadima voters

20% would be former Likud voters

16% – Israel Beitenu (Lieberman)

13%  – Shas

13%  – Labor

2% – Jewish Home

2.2% – Meretz

1% – National Unity

.9% – Torah Judaism

In other words, if elections were held today, a new social party probably can’t be expected to give in much on conflict issues, prioritize Arabs in Israel, nor tie in social justice with the pernicious trend of anti-democratic legislation. Unless, that is, those values of listening and open-mindedness really did sink in and contribute to re-defining shared values beyond ideological leanings.