Israelis mostly like Netanyahu but pessimistic on country, poll shows

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a relatively high favorability rating, but more Israelis believe the country is moving in the wrong direction, according to a new poll.

As he begins his eighth year as prime minister, Netanyahu scored a favorability rating of 51 percent in a new Times of Israel poll, down 2 percent from last year.  It is a relatively high favorability rating for an incumbent prime minister, according to pollster Stephan Miller.

Netanyahu’s popularity among his base of  right-wing voters is dropping, but is rising among left and center voters, Miller said.

The poll also found that 52 percent of Israeli voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, up from 51 percent the previous year. Twenty-seven percent of voters said the country was going in the right direction, down from 26 percent a year ago.

Among voters aged 18 to 24, some 71 percent said the country was headed in the wrong direction, compared with 11 percent who said it was headed in the right direction.

A majority of voters for the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu party alliance believed that Israel was heading in the right direction.

Netanyahu’s job approval rating also has declined. Some 34 percent of voters gave his job performance an excellent rating, compared with 39 percent last year. Meanwhile, 62 percent judged his performance as poor, compared with 57 percent last year. Most of the drop came from his right-wing voters’ base, according to the poll.

The survey of 802 eligible Israeli voters was conducted Dec. 26-31. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent.