Sep 17, 2019

Netanyahu's election eve pitch to voters: I'm about to lose

President Trump said today at the top of his meeting with the Crown Prince of Bahrain that the Israeli elections tomorrow are going to be “interesting and very close”.

Why it matters: Trump's remark echoes Netanyahu’s main campaign message in the last few days — that the polls are tight and the center left bloc led by Benny Gantz is about to win.

Netanyahu spent most of today and yesterday doing live Facebook broadcasts in order to mobilize his base.

  • Earlier today, Netanyahu did a Facebook Live session with John McLaughlin — his main pollster who also worked for Trump in 2016.
  • McLaughlin’s message, which Netanyahu’s campaign disseminated online, was that his polls show center-left voters planning to turnout in bigger numbers than right-wing voters.

Netanyahu’s Likud party also prepared audio messages to be sent on election day.

  • They inform Likud supporters that “according to verified turnout data the Arab voters and the left-wing voters are voting in big numbers" — a claim that's clearly fabricated given the recordings were made before polls opened.
  • Netanyahu used the same tactics with considerable success in the last two elections, this April and in 2015.
  • According to the latest polls, Netanyahu already has momentum on his side. He's expected to comes close to the crucial 61 members he needs to get a majority in the Knesset, and a new right-wing government.

Between the lines: Netanyahu isn't just worried about his political survival. He needs a new government to vote to shield him from corruption charges.

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Trump after Netanyahu election setback: Our relations are with Israel

Trump and Netnyahu at the White House. Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump appeared to distance himself from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today after the latter’s failure to win a parliamentary majority in Tuesday’s elections.

What he's saying: Trump told reporters in California that he hasn’t spoken yet to Netanyahu about the election results and stressed that his administration's relations “are with Israel." Those cool remarks are a blow to Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 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.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 17, 2019

Israel's Netanyahu and rival deadlocked after election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters of his Likud party after polls closed in the elections. Photo: Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party and the Blue and White party, led by Benny Gantz, are tied with 32 seats each with more than 85% of votes counted from Tuesday’s election.

The latest: The center-left and right-wing blocs, led by Gantz and Netanyahu respectively, were also roughly tied with 55-56 seats each on Wednesday morning. The Israel Beitenu party, led by former Defense Minister Avidor Lieberman, looks set to win about 10 seats.

Go deeperArrowSep 18, 2019