Report: Zionist Camp’s Gabay Hires Top Democratic Pollsters in Bid to Lift Fortunes

Labor party leader Avi Gabay. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Avi Gabay, desperate to rebound in the polls before the inevitable elections arrive, has begun consulting with American pollsters and campaign advisers Jim Gerstein and David Eichenbaum a report on Walla News Tuesday said. The two are considered expert advisers in Democratic Party circles, haing worked on both the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns. They have also worked in the past on Israeli elections: Gerstein with Ehud Barak in his successful 1999 bid for the office of Prime Minister, and Eichenbaum with Kadima, led by Shaul Mofaz, in the 2012 Knesset elections

The two are valued in American political circles for their expertise in getting out the liberal Jewish vote for Democratic candidates, the report quoted Democratic Party sources as saying. They both actively worked on the 2015 campaign by Obama to “sell” the Iranian nuclear deal to an apprehensive American Jewish community, and they also worked – unsuccessfully – to defeat Binyamin Netanyahu in that year’s Israeli Knesset elections.

Gabay had been working with American-Israeli political consultant Steven Miller, the report said.

The inclusion of expert American political consultants has been a staple of Israeli elections in recent years. Ironically, it was Netanyahu himself who was the first to “import” American talent, when he hired political consultant Arthur Finkelstein to advise him in the 1996 Knesset elections. Finkelstein, who passed away last year, worked with Netanyahu on his subsequent campaigns.

Zionist Camp, the party led by Gabay, has been polling very poorly in recent months, with the party not expected to get more than 12 or 13 seats in a new election. Gabay himself may be the problem, polls show: A recent one shows that Zionist Camp would see a sharp revival of its fortunes if it replaced current party chairperson Avi Gabay with former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

The entry of Gantz into the political arena – something he has hinted at several times in the past, but is still far from a given – would propel Zionist Camp to 24 seats, the poll shows. In that scenario, the Likud would receive 30 seats. Those are the numbers both the Likud and Zionist Camp have in the current Knesset. A Gantz-led Zionist Camp would also have a negative impact on Yesh Atid, which would get just 14 seats, and which has been polling in the low 20s with Lapid facing off against a Gabay-led Zionist Camp.