Only three days remain till the Labor Party primaries and the race is the closest in recent memory. A poll conducted for Yedioth Aharonoth by the Dahaf Institute hands the first round of voting to Kneseet Member Ami Ayalon, who carries 35 percent of registered Labor voters.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is not far behind with 31 percent, the gap between him and Ayalon falling within the statistical margin of error.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz,
the current Labor chairman, can breathe a little easier after Friday's polls which award him with 20 percent of votes in the first round. The other candidates – MKs Ophir Pines and Danny Yatom – poll at nine percent and two percent, respectively.
At present time none of the candidates vying for the chairmanship cross the 40 percent mark, which would cancel the need for a second round.
The poll examined a second round between Ayalon and Barak and found Ayalon taking an easy lead with 49 percent to Barak's 39 percent.
And the candidates? Peretz continues to work the campaign trail in the meantime, speaking at a Labor branch in the agricultural community of Dvora in the Taanachim region.
"On Monday we're going to take everyone by surprise and win big-time, in a month's time I will come back here as Israel's minister of finance," Peretz pledged to his activists. "Our group knows how to lose polls but win elections."
Meanwhile Barak's campaign is intensifying its focus on the first round of voting since a second round against Ayalon may prove impossible to win.
"We're entering the final stretch of the elections now, there are 96 crucial hours before us. If we use them correctly, devote our full determination – then we will win and we will already win in the first round," said Barak on Thursday night to a crowd of supporters in the Tikva neighborhood of southeast Tel Aviv.