If you cross check the latest voting data in Israel with income levels, one thing clearly stands out: the Israeli public votes overwhelmingly according to class. To be clear, this does not mean that the various political parties advertise themselves as class-oriented, but voting patterns do unequivocally show that in Israel, class matters.

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To show this, it is useful to look at the Social-Economic Classification, a ranking of Israeli cities and towns according to income level, which is updated annually by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The ranking runs from one to ten, with higher scores indicating higher average levels of income in each town.

Israel’s largest party in Knesset, the right-wing Likud, is by far the most popular party among middle-income households in Israel. Winning almost a third of the overall vote, the Likud is most popular in towns ranked 4-7 in the Social-Economic Classification. Yesh Atid, the Likud’s most powerful adversary on the center-left, won almost a quarter of the overall vote, but unlike the Likud, most of its support came from the upper range of income classification, with little if any support from lower-income households.

(Graphic: IDEA Davar)

However, the political picture changes completely when examining lower-income communities. In the lowest ranking towns by income, two relatively small parties stand out: The Ashkenazi Ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism (UTJ – Yahadut HaTorah) , and the Islamist party Ra’am. The Arab and Ultra-Orthodox communities tend to be at a lower-income level. 

As far as voting patterns in Arab communities go, the Islamist party is far more popular among low- income voters than the Joint List, the second Arab party made up of a union of mostly liberal Arab parties. 35% of Arabs living in the lowest ranking towns by income voted for the Islamist party, while only 8%voted for the Joint List. However, in towns higher up on the income scale, support for the Ra’am plummets, falling to only 1% of voters in towns ranking 5-10 by income.

United Torah Judaism is the most popular party among voters in towns ranking 1-2 on the income scale, but begins losing support higher up on the scale. Shas, the Mizrahi Ultra-Orthodox Party is also very popular among low-income voters, but continues to be popular among higher-income voters as well, with over 5% of the vote in towns ranking 5-7. 

The two parties that represent the religious right-wing communities finished the race with close results, with Naftali Bennet’s Yamina party securing only 50,000 votes over the ultra  right-wing Religious Zionism (Ha'Tzionut Ha’Datit) party. However, the vote seems also divided by class: Yemina is by far more popular in towns ranking 6-10, while Religious Zionism, with its ultra-nationalist (Kahanist) candidate Itamar Ben-Gvir, is more popular among lower-income voters in towns ranking 1-4.

On the secular center-left, Yesh Atid, and the smaller Kachol-Lavan (headed by Benny Gantz), show a significant correlation with higher-income voting. The higher up the town on the classification, the more likely it is to vote for the center-left.

The two left wing parties, Meretz and Labor, receive little support among lower-income voters. The center of support for these two parties is among high earning voters, but noticeably not among voters in the highest ranking towns, where support for the left wing parties plummets.

Another interesting correlation is between voter participation and income. Among voters in towns ranking 1-6 by income, voter participation stood at 53 to 58%, while among voters in towns ranking 7-8, the participation rate was 64%. In the highest ranking towns, voter participation reached 73%.