Home inContext Palestinian Polls are Problematic

Palestinian Polls are Problematic

Michael Sharnoff

According to recent West Bank and Gaza political polls by Khalil Shikaki’s Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party would defeat the Islamist Hamas party if elections were held now.

Shikaki’s polls aren’t always accurate, however. PSR predicted that Fatah would win with 42% of the 2006 vote. Hamas, however, won by a landslide. As Middle East historian Martin Kramer noted, Shikaki’s data errors may reveal pro-Fatah sympathies. According to political analyst Zakariya al-Qaq, Palestinian pollsters may seek to “affect the voters’ decision by presenting a distorted picture.”

More broadly, it is important to question the utility of these polls at this time. Hamas and Fatah are at war. Hamas has repeatedly stated it will not respect the legitimacy of Abbas’ government after his term expires January 9. Likewise, Fatah will not cede authority to a new Hamas regime. After all, it refused to do so after the 2006 elections.