Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The Israeli election on Tuesday has one critical unknown which rarely occurs in the United States, the fact that pollsters have consistently suggested that there 15% of the electorate is undecided. As a result of this high undecided percentage, all the polling studies consistently have had a very high potential error factor in their polls. In addition, the analysts use the standard device of assuming that the undecided votes will break more or less as the identified voters; something which may not be the case especially given the size of the undecided. This conclusion suggests to anyone trying to objectively predict the results of the election is that if indeed the results tomorrow are a surprise, it would not contradict the projections available until now, given these two caveats.
This does not suggest that Bibi will not have the largest number of votes for the Likud-Beitanu list. It mean that the decline in support for his group could go significantly below the now projected 32 seats or could show a sharp upswing at the end, although the former move is more likely. It also means that the decline for the Prime Minister’s list may not necessarily be going to the center/left parties, but rather to an even stronger right wing party such as HaBayit HaYehudi, or to one of the Sephardic Parties.
The consequence of such a move would then be reflected when Bibi will seek to cobble together a new coalition. Specifically, would he move to bring in more right wing forces, or would he break with them and move his coalition more to the center? This suggests as well that negotiating over putting together a viable working coalition after the election may well take much longer than Netanyahu and others had predicted some weeks ago. This will also reflect when we see whether, as some are suggesting, that Bibi may pull a Sharon and move away from his historical base on the right; or will he return to the secure womb which nurtured him and his father in the past. It is not clear at this point if Bibi has the character or the political guts to make a break; assuming he even wanted to do so ideologically.