August 22, 2012 | 10:42 am
It has not been a good summer for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It began with something close to euphoria, as the coalition was broadened to include the Kadima Party and reach a near-record 94 mandates. But the coalition did not exactly thrive: Kadima was forced out when agreement on the draft of Haredi men could not be reached – not exactly what the public wanted. And other issues also started to erode Netanyahu’s previous support. While the social protest movement wasn’t able to accomplish something that even remotely reminiscent to last year’s successes, the government made life harder for itself by imposing necessary but never popular austerity measures on the public. Taxes are going up, services are being cut. The public – already fearful of the consequences of possible armed conflict with Iran – can be forgiven for its lack of confidence. As you can see in our Netanyahu Approval tracker, the result is a continued decline in Netanyahu’s numbers. He now barely clears 30% approval - not long ago he was above 50%.
1. An election is not what Netanyahu wants right now. Considering his low approval numbers, and the closing gap between the right and left wing blocs (you can see the blocs and the analysis in our often-updated Poll Trend tracker), Netanyahu has every reason – and the votes – to dismiss any thoughts of election until another, better time. This is ironic if one considers the fact that elections would have been held in about two weeks, had Netanyahu not pulled from his hat the last minute agreement with Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.
2. Mofaz wanted the agreement because he needed time to get organized and try to recover politically. In a sense, he got what he wanted: the immediate elections were postponed and the threat of looming elections was much lessened. But the recovery of his image is another story. One of the only comforting aspects for Netanyahu of having such a low approval rating is that no other leader comes close to be able to challenge him for the top job at this time.
3. I’m one of those who thinks that any decision on Iran will not be greatly influenced by the approval ratings of the prime minister. For one, because I’m not enough of a cynic to think that a decision of such magnitude will be determined by the PM’s popularity at any given moment. But also because I really don’t think popularity matters on this issue. Netanyahu is a politician, and I never expect politicians not to think about the politics of every decision they make. But as a skilled politician, Netanyahu knows that the politics on Iran will be simple: if the public considers action to be successful, the prime minister gains. If action is deemed unsuccessful, he loses. Since Netanyahu isn’t going to launch an operation if he doesn’t see an opening for success, he doesn’t have to think much about politics when he ponders Iran.
How the ranking is determined
• The index is primarily based on published polls from four media sources: Dialog-Haaretz, the Panels Institute, Channel 10 television and the Dahaf Institute. It will be updated regularly at Rosner’s Domain; we will add relevant polls from other sources as we go along.
• The wording of the relevant question in the Dialog-Haaretz and Channel 10 polls was, “Do you approve or disapprove of Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister?” (the literal translation from the Hebrew version is “satisfied” and “not satisfied,” rather than “approve” and “disapprove”).
• The Panel Institute polls asked respondents to grade the prime minister’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10. The Dahaf polls asked respondents to evaluate the prime minister’s performance using five categories: very good, good, mediocre, bad and very bad.
• The two linear regression models were fitted to the Panels and the Dahaf polls’ data, with the response variable being the proportions of the dichotomous variable with the categories “approve” and “disapprove.”
The data plotted here contains a combination of results from both individual polls and from averages of several polls as follows
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