How to Follow the Israeli Elections Online—and in English
Israel’s March elections are fast approaching-and still too close to call. Even for devoted Israel watchers, though, it can be difficult to follow the fluctuations of a political scene that features over half-a-dozen parties jockeying for parliamentary position. And that’s before one bumps up against the Hebrew language barrier. Fortunately, Tablet is here to help.
How can one keep track of the many polls released each week-and how reliable are they? Which analysts are writing in English and offering detailed blow-by-blow accounts of the race’s developments? And who makes the best political parody videos lampooning the contest’s participants? Our primer has the answers.
In the era of Nate Silver, nothing carries more currency with political junkies than the latest polls. Israel’s, however, have proven notoriously unreliable. Pollsters have consistently overestimated the support for large parties and underrated smaller ones, often by dramatic margins. These errors are compounded by the fact that over a third of Israeli voters tend to be undecided before they get to the ballot box. With such a large late-breaking swing vote, and a parliament whose seats are determined by vote percentage, it can seem near impossible to predict Israel’s elections with any certainty.
Enter Project 61. Run by analyst Nehemia Gershuni, and drawing its name from the 61 seats required to form a majority coalition in the Knesset, Project 61 aims to be the FiveThirtyEight of Israel’s elections. Drawing on Nate Silver’s own methodology, the project aggregates Israel’s many polls, then weights the average based on the historical reliability of each pollster. Those with a better track record for accuracy count for more, and vice versa. The result, displayed in easily understood infographics, is likely the best look at the political state-of-play possible before election day. For example, at the top of the page is Project 61’s latest breakdown.
Reporting and Analysis
From top political reporters like Channel 2’s Amit Segal to Channel 10’s Nadav Perry, there is no shortage of quality election coverage in Hebrew. But what about in English? Thanks to the proliferation of online English media from Israel, some native and some translated, there’s plenty to choose from among outlets like the Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and many others.
But beyond the usual publications, there are also particular writers well worth following for up-to-the-minute coverage. Lahav Harkov, ace Knesset reporter at the Jerusalem Post, tweets breaking news, polls, photos and analysis from countless rallies and other electoral events.