Updated Sep 17, 2019

Israel election: Updated exit polls show Netanyahu dropping further behind

Netanyahu. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party trails the center-left Blue and White party in 3 of 3 exit polls, which continue to be updated after polls closed with real vote counts. All 3 polls show Netanyahu's right-wing bloc falling short of the 61 seats needed for a majority.

Why it matters: Exit polls are not the same as official results, but they are a significant indicator. This was Israel's second election in a matter of months after Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition following April's vote. He is facing 3 pending corruption indictments and may have to remain in power to stay out of jail.

The big picture: The exit polls show Netanyahu coming up short, but it is unclear if his primary rival, Benni Gantz, would be able to form a coalition if given the chance. Gantz has already announced he is looking to lead a unity government that includes Likud, but it's unclear if the party will agree to join as long as Netanyahu is its leader.

  • According to Channel 13's updated exit poll, the Arab Joint List alliance led by Ayman Odeh won 15 seats, its highest number ever.
  • Channel 13 shows turnout in Arab towns and villages was above 70%, an increase that is believed to be a reaction to Netanyahu’s incitement campaign against Israeli Arabs.
  • 10 days before the elections, Netanyahu sought to pass a bill that would allow videos to be shot in the polling stations, a measure that was perceived as an attempt by Netanyahu to suppress voting by Arab Israelis.

By the numbers:

  • According to the revised Channel 13 exit poll: Likud won 30 seats to 32 for Blue and White. Netanyahu's right-wing bloc won 53 seats and the center-left bloc led by Benny Gantz won 59.
  • According to Channel 12 poll: Likud (33) trails Blue and White (34). The right-wing bloc has 57, while the center-left gets 55. 
  • According to the revised Channel 11 poll: Likud (31) trails Blue and White (32) after the exit poll was updated. The right-wing bloc gets 55 seats and center-left 56. 

Go deeper: Read Axios' Israel election preview

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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