5 days to the Elections: Jewish Israelis are Paying Less Attention. A Majority of Arab Israelis are Following with the Same or Increased Interest. 30% of the Public Predicts a Fourth Election.
* This month saw a certain decline in optimism about the future of Israel’s national security and a slight rise in optimism about the future of democracy, with the ranking remaining as it was - Israelis are more optimistic about the first issue than about the second.
* In the public as a whole the rate of those who want Netanyahu to be the next prime minister, whether leading a right-wing government or a center-right unity government, is slightly higher than the rate of those who want Gantz to be prime minister of one government or another - a center-right unity government or a center-left government. On this question the gap between Jews and Arabs is very large: among the Jews a majority wants a Netanyahu-led government, while among the Arabs the clear preference is for a government led by Gantz.
* And what will the future hold? The highest rate of the Israeli public thinks no government will be formed and there will be a fourth round of elections. In second place are those who think some sort of government led by Netanyahu will be formed, and in third place - those who expect that some sort of Gantz-led government will take shape.
* Among the Jews, the rate of those reporting that they are taking less interest in the elections than in the past is on the increase. Among the Arabs this month, there was in fact a decline in this rate, perhaps because of the “deal of the century” and, particularly, the clause dealing with the possibility of territorial swaps.
* A majority of the Israeli public supports the deal of the century, which includes the application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley and in Judea and Samaria, and also in the future, if the Palestinians fulfill certain conditions, the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
* The Jews’ support for the plan is much higher than that of the Arabs, only a small minority of whom favors it. Disparities in support were also found within the Jewish public in the different political camps, though they are smaller than would have been expected given the sensitivity of the issue.
* A majority of Israelis are sure, or at least think, that the Health Ministry is dealing properly with the coronavirus threat. The majority also is not so afraid or not afraid at all that they themselves or their family members will catch the virus.
The National “Mood”
About two weeks before the elections, the data show a certain decline in the public’s optimism about the future of Israel’s national security and a slight rise in optimism about the future of democratic rule in Israel. As in the past, this month as well the optimism on the national-security issue (53%) exceeds the optimism on the future of democracy (44%). The gaps between Jews and Arabs are greater on the security issue than on the future-of-democratic-rule issue. Some 57% of Jews are optimistic about the future of security compared to 34% of Arabs (a 23% gap). Almost half of the Jews (46%) are optimistic about the state of democracy compared to 36% of the Arabs (a 10% gap).
In the Jewish sample, the political-camp-based gaps are considerable: on the left, only a minority is optimistic about both issues - about a third (33%) on the future of security and 18% on the state of democracy. On the right, optimists form a majority on both issues: almost two-thirds (63%) regarding the future of security compared to a little more than half (54%) regarding the future of democracy. The center is in the middle on both issues, optimistic about the future of security but with only a minority optimistic about the future of democracy (53% and 36% respectively).
Optimistic about the future of democratic rule in Israel and about the future of Israel’s national security, April 2019-February 2020 (%, entire public)
What Government Does the Israeli Public Want and What Government Does It Expect to Be Formed?
In the public as a whole the rate of those who want Netanyahu to be the next prime minister (44%), whether of a right-wing government or a center-right unity government, is slightly higher than the rate of those who want Gantz to be the next prime minister (41%), whether of a center-right unity government or a center-left government.
And what government does the public actually expect to be formed? The highest rate (39%) expects that some sort of Netanyahu-led government will be established compared to only 19% who see some sort of Gantz-led government taking shape. Thirty percent consider that no government at all will be formed and a fourth round of elections will be held.
The gaps between Jews and Arabs on the question of whom they want to see as prime minister are large. Among the Jews a majority (52%) would want some sort of government headed by Netanyahu, compared to a small minority (6%) among the Arabs. As for Gantz, a minority (37%) of the Jews would want a government led by him compared to a majority (62%) of the Arabs. It should be noted, though, that more than a quarter of the Arabs have no clear preference (28%).
What government would you want to be formed after the upcoming elections to the Knesset? (%, Jews and Arabs)
A segmentation of the data by position on the Haredi-secular spectrum (Jews) reveals that, while a large majority of the Haredi, religious, and religious-traditional public wants Netanyahu to be the next prime minister, the majority of the secular public would want Gantz to be prime minister after the elections. The opinions among the nonreligious traditional public are divided.
What government would you want to be formed after the upcoming elections to the Knesset? (%, Jews, by religiosity)
However, when we asked the interviewees what government they think will actually be formed, we found that the distribution of expectations was very different from the distribution of desires that we reported above. The highest rate in the public as a whole (without a large gap between Jews and Arabs) expects that neither side will succeed to form a government and that Israel will have a fourth round of elections (30%). A considerably lower rate anticipated that a Netanyahu-led right-wing government would be formed (22%), and an even smaller rate - that a Netanyahu-led unity government would emerge (17%). Only 12% expected a center-right unity government led by Gantz to be formed, while a tiny minority of 7% anticipates that after the elections a Gantz-led center-left government will be established.
What government, in your opinion, has a higher chance of being formed after the elections to the Knesset? (%, entire public)
A cross-checking of the answers to the two questions reveals that the rate of those in the Jewish public who want Netanyahu to be prime minister and who also expect that to happen (62%) considerably exceeds the rate of those who prefer Gantz to be prime minister and also think it will happen (41%).
The rate who expect (entire public) that there will be a fourth round of elections among those who prefer Netanyahu as prime minister and among those who prefer Gantz is similar (Netanyahu supporters - 29%; Gantz supporters - 31%).
What government do you want to be formed after the upcoming elections to the Knesset, and what government will in fact be formed? (%, public as a whole)
In the Arab public, about a third (32%) of those who want to see Gantz as prime minister think that is actually what will happen.
A segmentation by political camp (Jews) reveals that on the left, the rate of those who think Israel is facing a fourth round of elections is the highest (39%, compared to 32% in the center and 28% on the right). Among the Arabs, about a third expect a fourth round of elections to be held.
Expectation of a fourth round of elections, by party voted for in the September 2019 elections (%, entire public)
Interest in the Election Campaign
This month, too, we gauged the extent to which the Israeli public is following the election campaign. The Jewish public’s responses indicate that interest in the campaign is in a downward trend. In August 2019, about two weeks before the most recent round of elections (September 2019), 40% of the Jews said they were following the elections campaign less than they did before previous elections (April 2019). In a survey we conducted last month (January 2020) this rate already came to almost half (49%), while in the current survey, despite the fact that the elections were already imminent, more than half of the Jews (55%) said they were following these looming elections less than in the previous case.
In the Arab public, on all the measurements, the rate of those following the election campaign to a lesser extent than in the past is lower than in the Jewish public. However, the trend in the Arab public differs from that in the Jewish public; the rate of those not taking an interest this month was in fact lower than in the previous month. That is, whereas in the January survey 41% said they were following the upcoming elections less than they followed the previous elections, in the current survey this rate declined to only a third. In other words, in the Arab public a certain increase occurred in the rate of interest in the elections, while in the Jewish public there was a decrease. The reason for the increase could be President Trump’s peace plan, and particularly the part concerning territorial swaps.
Following the election campaign, August 2019, January and February 2020 (%, Jews and Arabs)
A segmentation of the interest in the elections by political camp (Jews) shows that in the current survey, two-thirds of the left said they were following the current elections less than in the previous case, compared to only 41% who said so in the January survey. Among the center and the right there is also a rise in the degree of disinterest, but it is lower.
Following the current election campaign less than the previous one, January and February 2020 (%, Jews, divided by political camp)
What Will Primarily Affect the Israelis’ Voting in the Elections?
This month as well we repeated the question about what will primarily influence Israelis when going to vote in the Knesset elections. As in last month’s survey, in this one as well the Netanyahu investigations are in first place, but it is hard to compare between the two questions in the two surveys since this month we added the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process. Currently in the opinion of the public as a whole, then, the main issues that will affect the voting are, in descending order: the Netanyahu investigations, the security situation, the cost of living and of housing, the diplomatic process, Jewish-Arab relations in the country, and, finally, the issue of religion and state. Notable here is the higher-than-usual rate of those who chose the “Don’t know” option.
What, in your opinion, is the main issue that will affect the Israelis’ voting in the upcoming elections to the Knesset? (%, entire public)
Forming a government with the Joint List’s support
A majority (62%) of the Jewish public opposes the establishment of a government with the outside support of the Joint List. As expected, the gaps between the political camps on this issue are very large:
In the Arab public, there is a majority of supporters of the formation of a government with the outside support of the Joint List (53.5%). Worthy of note here is the high rate of the “Don’t knows” among this public (20%).
The Deal of the Century
Support for the program – In the public as a whole, the rate of supporters of the deal of the century that President Trump proposed exceeds the rate of opponents at 49% vs. 34%. However, the gap between Jews and Arabs here is huge: 54% of the Jews support this plan compared to 24% of the Arabs. Certain disparities - though not as large as on other issues - were also found according to political camp (Jews): 57% support on the right, 50% in the center, and 49% on the left.
Two of the main elements of the peace plan that President Trump has presented are: (1) applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and to all the settlements in Judea and Samaria, and (2) if the Palestinians meet certain conditions, for example, recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people and renouncing terror, in the future a Palestinian state will be established whose capital is East Jerusalem. Do you support or oppose this plan? (%, supporters, Jews)
Applying Israeli sovereignty before the elections – We asked: “Do you agree or disagree with the following view: ‘Israel should already have applied its sovereignty to the Jewish settlements in the territories before the upcoming elections’?” Among the Jews about half (48%) responded to this question positively while 38% answered negatively. A segmentation by political camp turns up the expected result: on the left the majority (82%) responded negatively, in the center as well a majority takes that view (57%), but on the right it is a minority, with only 29% saying Israel should not have applied its sovereignty.
In the Arab public a majority opposes applying sovereignty to the Jewish settlements. Noteworthy here is the high rate of “Don’t knows” among this public (22%).
The Coronavirus Crisis
A majority of the Jewish public (60%) is sure or at least thinks that the Health Ministry is dealing properly with the coronavirus threat.
In your opinion, is the Israeli Health Ministry dealing properly or not dealing properly with the threat of the spread of the coronavirus in Israel? (%, entire public)
Probably because Health Minister Litzman is a member of the haredi Torah Judaism party, the rate of those who think the Health Ministry is dealing properly with the coronavirus threat is highest among the haredi interviewees (%):
|Haredi||Religious||Traditional religious||Traditional nonreligious||Secular|
|Sure or think that the Health Ministry is dealing properly with the coronavirus threat||89||66||67.5||61||53|
Perhaps because no cases of an active disease have been discovered in Israel (still), a majority of the public is not so afraid or not afraid at all that they themselves or their family members will catch the virus (62%).
Are you now afraid or not afraid that you or someone in your family will catch the coronavirus? (%, entire public)
The data show that in the Arab public the fear of catching the coronavirus is significantly higher than in the Jewish public (53% vs. 30%).
Are you now afraid or not afraid that you or someone in your family will catch the coronavirus? (%, Jews and Arabs)
A cross-checking of the answers to the two questions reveals that only 31% of those who think the Health Ministry is dealing properly with the threat of the spread of the coronavirus fear that they or someone in their family will catch the virus, compared to almost half (43%) of those who think the Health Ministry is not dealing properly with this threat.
The Israeli Voice Index is a project of the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (to supplement the participation of groups that are not sufficiently represented on the network). The Jewish Israeli sample, which included 610 respondents between February 19-23, 2020, and the Arab-Israeli sample, which included 134 respondents, between February 24-25, 2020, constituting a representative national sample of Israel’s adult population aged 18 and older. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was 3.7%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Midgam Institute. For the full data file see: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il