How Netanyahu and his allies won by a knockout.  data

How Netanyahu and his allies won by a knockout. data

How Netanyahu and his allies won by a knockout. data

After four years of continuous campaigning and five election rounds, the election finally ended in a knockout. Although coalition talks have not yet officially begun, and theoretically more surprises could be in store, it is now highly likely that Netanyahu will get his wish and be able to form a right-wing coalition.

Much has been written about the election and its aftermath at home and abroad. This column does not wish to add to this debate.

Instead, as we’ve done throughout the campaign, we’ll focus on data to answer two key questions: What happened to turn a very close election into a relative blowout? And what does this mean for Israel going forward?

The election was neck and neck during the four-month campaign, with Netanyahu and anti-Netanyahu alliances hovering around 60 seats. Among us final election columnwe noticed that two things could change this and produce a markedly different result: differential participation and threshold.

That’s exactly how it turned out. Simply put, the differential voter turnout ensured the victory for Netanyahu’s bloc, and the threshold ensured a relatively large margin.

Let’s consider them one by one.


This will never be an election based on conviction. With so much water under the bridge, the odds of a large number of voters switching sides always seemed unlikely. And so much of the campaign was about differential voter turnout, mobilizing the convinced rather than the undecided; bringing more supporters to the polls than the other party could.

The first thing to note is that overall participation actually increased from 67% in 2021 to 71%. Regardless of everything else, it is quite remarkable that the reaction of the Israeli public after election after election is to actually turn out in greater numbers.

But what is more significant is who turned out to vote in greater numbers and who did not. In the center-left and center-left cities of the country, such as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Kfar Saba, Hod Hasharon and Ra’anan, turnout rates have remained almost unchanged since 2021. , Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tiberias, Kiryat Gat, and Afula all saw turnout rates increase between three and seven percentage points.

How Netanyahu and his allies won by a knockout.  data

Otzma Yehudit far-right party Itamar Ben Gvir gestures to supporters at election headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, after voting in the national elections. On the left is Rabbi Dov Lior. (Jalaa MAREY/AFP)

Therefore, the four percentage point increase in participation came mostly from right-leaning areas.

A look at the raw polling numbers further illustrates this point. In 2021, 2.22 million Israelis voted for parties opposed to Netanyahu, compared to 2.13 million for Netanyahu. This time, while the non-Bibi bloc increased its votes by 5 percent to 2.33 million, the Netanyahu bloc increased by 11 percent to 2.36 million. In total, Netanyahu added 230,000 votes to his alliance from the previous round, while the other party added the same number.

Percentage change in votes: 2021 vs. 2022

What happened becomes clearer when we break the alliances down into their component parts;

The biggest shift on the right was the unprecedented turnout of supporters of haredi parties, who managed to increase their voter turnout by 19 percent. The gain for the non-Haredi right (Likud, Religious Zionism and Jewish Home) was more modest, but still significant, at 8 percent.

In contrast, the Zionist Center and the Left (Yesh Atid, National Congregation, Labor and Meretz) saw their voter turnout drop by one percent despite an expanded electorate, showing how their attempts to motivate and mobilize their voters failed.

After weeks of talk about Arab participation, in the end, Arab citizens turned out in large numbers, and votes for Arab parties increased by 35 percent. This, however, ultimately failed to offset the decline of the center left.

Overall, Netanyahu’s alliance very narrowly “won” the “popular vote” (a highly contested and dubious concept in this context, but interesting nonetheless) for the first time since April 2019.

The popular vote of the last five elections


While Netanyahu’s narrow 30,000-vote “victory” explains how his alliance would have reached 61 or 62 seats, it does not explain his substantial majority. That’s why we have to look at the threshold.

As noted during the campaign, Netanyahu built his alliance optimally. four parties, each of which has a surplus vote-sharing agreement, and with another smaller party, which he relentlessly attacked to ensure it barely got enough votes. In total, his alliance “wasted” about 56,000 votes or 1.5 mandates.

On the other side of the map, the situation was very different. With four parties hovering just above the threshold and one below, there was always a high chance of meaningless votes costing dearly. In the end, Meretz, the veteran left-wing party, fell short of the threshold by around 4,000 votes, while Labor almost crossed the threshold. The result meant that although the two left-wing parties won enough votes to win around eight seats, they won only four seats.

Votes for left-wing parties

This has sparked a flurry of recriminations on the left and center.

Without delving into the blame game, we emphasize a point often made in these pages during the campaign. when elections develop a confrontational dynamic where two large parties compete to be the largest, voters tend to gravitate to the smaller parties. like last minute. While Meretz has crossed the threshold (albeit close) in every survey over the past two months, this dynamic means that falling below it should not come as a surprise.

Zehava Galon, chairwoman of the Meretz party, votes at a polling station in Bnei Brak during the Knesset elections on November 1, 2022. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

The other party that did not pass the threshold was the Arab Balad Party, which eventually gathered 2.9 percent or about 15,000 votes. This means that although the Arab parties got 511,000 votes, almost the same as Religious Zionism, they got only ten seats. After all, the 130,000 increase in the Arab vote since the last election and the successful efforts to increase their turnout were largely for naught.

Votes for Arab parties

In total, the anti-Bibi alliance wasted 289,000 votes, worth about seven seats, the difference between a very close election and a resounding defeat.

What about voting?

As always, when election results don’t match the polls, questions are raised about the quality and even usefulness of public opinion polls. This has become a familiar argument around the world, and as those who have pointed out the accuracy of Israeli polls in recent times, this is an important question that we need to address.

The biggest challenge for pollsters in Israel is the threshold. Meretz was off the threshold by around 0.1 percent, well beyond any poll’s accuracy. This in turn boosted the other parties as Meretz’s vote is distributed elsewhere, all adding to the perception of a “fault” in the polls.

If we’re being too critical, we can point to the fact that Meretz averaged 4.6 places in our final average and didn’t lose a single poll, but still polls have shown him to be consistently dangerous. in the zone, always inside. margin of error, and the fact that it fell should therefore come as no great surprise.

Shas party leader Arieh Deri with his supporters at the announcement of the results of the Israeli elections in Jerusalem. November 1, 2022. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

If Meretz got those extra 4,000 votes, Netanyahu’s alliance would get 61, or more likely 62 seats, not far from the poll average of 60.3. Future analyzes will have the opportunity to expand on this issue, but it is likely that the late increase in participation among the right, and particularly the Haredim, is responsible for this discrepancy.

In terms of Haredi parties, however, there is much room for improvement. Despite consistently holding 15 seats during the election campaign, the Haredi parties ultimately won 19 seats, their fifth consecutive top-line. Twice, in April 2019 and this time, this happened by a very wide margin.

Haredi parties. seats versus the final election average

Given the special nature of the Haredi community, Israeli polling organizations need to invest more in new ways to more accurately target this community in order to prevent this from happening again.

Overall, however, the survey was fairly accurate. With the exception of the Meretz and Haredi parties, all other parties found themselves within their median position, some right on the nose. In an extremely fluid multi-party field, not to be sniffed at.

Moving from final polling averages to results

Moreover, even with Meretz narrowly missing the threshold, the party’s average “error” in this election was 1.2 seats, well in line with the average of the last four rounds.

Average change in seats by party from final polling average to actual results

Ultimately, the survey served its purpose of giving us an accurate picture of the state of the race. It showed us that the election would go straight to either side of 60-60 unless the left-wing party fell below the threshold. It also showed us that four parties were very close to that threshold. While it couldn’t quite decide which party would ultimately fall, it did its job.

Which brings us back where did we start With this column, four long months ago, with our borrowed and appropriated quote from Winston Churchill: After five election campaigns in quick succession, the reality is that polls remain the worst way to gauge public sentiment, bar all the others that have been tried.

Simon Davies and Joshua Huntman are partners at Number 10 Strategies, an international strategy, research and communications consultancy, who have polled and run campaigns for presidents, prime ministers, political parties and major corporations in dozens of countries on four continents.

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