Driving around Tel Aviv, one can see buses bearing the signs of the new Kadima Party ad campaign. It’s not usual for a party to campaign when there’s no election date in sight, but Kadima is indeed advertising. Its situation is so bad, and its need for some gains so urgent, that waiting for an election campaign would be like waiting for Kadima to slowly die.
The campaign is all about the military draft, praising the leadership of ex-military chief and current Kadima chair Shaul Mofaz and pounding defeatist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The message is clear, if hardly credible: Mofaz is the man who wants the ultra-Orthodox to share the burden of serving, while Netanyahu is the one who is selling Israel out to the ultra-Orthodox parties.
It is far from clear that Mofaz’ image as the failed leader of Kadima can be salvaged – I think it cannot, I think he cannot be a viable candidate in the next elections (a comeback is always possible later, see Rabin, Sharon et al). But even though Mofaz keeps suffering, and though Kadima has barely gained from its departure from the coalition, it can still hurt Netanyahu and the Likud Party with ongoing reminders that yes, Netanyahu did choose his Haredi partners over equal draft for all.
And as the voters are constantly reminded of this, they have become angry and disappointed. And when voters become disappointed, they flock to other parties. The Likud is paying in the polls – and has been for a number of weeks now – for siding with the Haredi parties.
This drop in the polls is visibly evident in Rosner’s Domain exclusive Israel Poll Trends tracker. As you can see in the updated graphs produced by our statistician in residence Prof. Camil Fuchs, the political bloc of the Likud plus right-wing parties is fast declining in the polls. And the left bloc is gaining – not yet enough to challenge Netanyahu, but enough to make him worry.