The Israel National Election Studies

Prof. Asher Arian ZL

Asher Arian founded the empirical research of voting behavior in Israel, and for many years, has been considered a pioneer, leader, and mainstay of this research field in Israel. With his aliyah to Israel in 1966, he discovered the existence of a serious lacuna in political science research in Israel – At that time, there were almost no empirical studies examining the behavior of Israeli voters and certainly no database following changes and fluctuations over time. Arian brought with him from the United States the modern behavioral political science approach and with it the methods, tools, and ideas for examining political attitudes and voting behavior at the individual level. He was the first to implement these in Israel, and did so with great success. As early as the 1969 election campaign, the first following his aliyah, he initiated, planned and conducted a series of election polls, which were the first of their kind in Israel. They included a preliminary survey with a small sample in August 1969, two comprehensive surveys with larger samples representing the adult urban Jewish population in the months from September to November, and a special survey amongst candidates for the Knesset.

The questionnaires that Arian composed in 1969, like those he has written since, were very comprehensive and included questions measuring all variables relevant for studies on voting behavior in the Israeli context. These questions can be divided into several basic groups: