The first attributed poll since rumors began earlier in the week of outgoing Communications and Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon starting his own party indicates that if he did enter the Knesset race, his party would garner ten Knesset seats – but that they would not come at the expense of the Likud.
Media reports over the past few days said that several polls had shown Kahlon getting anywhere from 20 to 35 seats. However, those polls were regarded as spin by most professional pollsters, and no background information or methodology was published to justify them. The current poll, conducted by the Geocartographia organization on Tuesday and Wednesday and presented on Israel Radio Thursday morning, said that in the event that Kahlon runs, the joint Likud-Yisrael Beyetenu list would garner 43 seats in the next Knesset; without Kahlon in the race, the joint list would get 44 seats.
The biggest contributor to a Kahlon ticket would be the Labor Party, which would only get 16 seats with Kachlon in the race, compared to 19 without him. Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party would contribute a seat to Kahlon, going down from 14 to 13 with Kahlon in the race.
Shas would lose two seats to the former Likud minister, as would the National Union, which is still listed as an independent party in the poll (Pollsters will present the party as a unified list with Bayit Yehudi after the joint slate is introduced next week, as is scheduled). Other seats would come from Meretz and United Torah Jewry. The current poll showed no impact on Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) and the Arab parties.
Assuming Kahlon joined a Likud government – he is considered rightwing in his views, and would be unlikely to join a Labor-led government – the rightwing bloc in the Knesset would actually increase by five seats, compared to last week's polls.
Observers said that the poll would likely dampen media enthusiasm for Kahlon's candidacy, which some believe was being promoted in order to weaken public support for the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list.
Kahlon is personally very popular because of his efforts to lower the cost of basic services, such as cellphone service and cable and satellite TV. He was also behind a number of reforms in consumer laws, such as making it easier for Israelis to receive a cash refund when returning an item they are not happy with, instead of having to make do with a store credit. He would in all probability garner votes from those social protesters who really wanted consumers rights rather than just to attack Netanyahu.
Apparently, said the observers, left-leaning elements in the media, which most observers believe hatched and promoted the story of Kahlon's candidacy, believed that doing so would weaken the joint list, perhaps making it more difficult for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government, or encouraging a breakup of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list. With the new poll showing that a future Likud-led rightwing government would actually be strengthened, “the leftist elements in the media is probably going to start backing away from the Kahlon tack and try to come up with something else to shake Netanyahu's chances.”