FYI, without comment: Khalil Shikaki's Center for Palestine Center for Policy Research and Studies has pre-released the findings of its latest poll about the Palestinian elections. Here are the main findings:
"The poll shows an emerging new reality in the Palestinian territories compared to the situation prevailing three months ago when we conducted our September 2004 poll. The most important changes indicate a more realistic atmosphere with a significant drop in the level of support for Hamas and a big increase in the level of support for Fateh. It is worth remembering that similar trends were observed in December 1995, one month before the first Palestinian elections in January 1996....
"The poll shows that if presidential elections were to take place today, the results would be close with Mahmud Abbas receiving 40% of the votes and Marwan Barghouti receiving 38%. Mustafa Barghouti would receive 6% while all the other candidates would receive a total of 3% for all of them combined. 13% have not decided yet. The poll shows Abbas winning in the Gaza Strip (48% vs. 34% for Marwan Barghouti). But Marwan Barghouti wins in the West Bank (40% vs. 35% for Mahmud Abbas). These results represent the voting intentions of those planning to participate in the vote on January 9, 2005. The findings show that the level of non-participation is going to be low (10%).
"Mahmud Abbas is seen as the candidate most capable of reaching a peace agreement with Israel, improving the economic conditions, and enforcing law and order. Marwan Barghouti is viewed as the candidate most capable of protecting the right of return. The public evaluation of the ability of the two candidates to maintain national unity and preventinternal infighting is similar for both.
"The poll shows a significant increase in the popularity of Fateh from 29% last September to 40% in this poll. The increase is higher in the Gaza Strip, from 24% to 38%. The popularity of Hamas drops in the total West Bank and the Gaza Strip from 22% last September to 18% in this poll. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas' popularity drops from 30% to 22%. The total level of support for all Islamists (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and independent Islamists) drops in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip from 32% to 24% during the same period."