PM Netanyahu
PM Netanyahu GPO photo: Amos Ben Gershom

Expect changes – lots of them – in the opinion polls during the run-up to next March 17th's elections, said Professor Avi Degani of the Geocartographia Polling Institute. In fact, said Degani, one of Israel's most experienced pollsters, the results of polls are likely to change on a daily basis.

Like on Sunday, when Arutz Sheva interviewed him on a poll taken over the weekend. While polls on Thursday and Friday showed the Likud and Labor running neck-and-neck at about 21 seats, with a slight edge for Labor – and both tailed very closely by Jewish Home – Sunday's results were substantially different. In the latest poll, the Likud pulls ahead of the pack with 27 seats, while Labor moves up to 25. Jewish Home, meanwhile, falls way back to 11 seats.

The rest of the pack also falls back; instead of the 13 last week's polls predicted for Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party, the Sunday poll has Kahlon winning just 9 seats. Yisrael Beytenu manages to squeeze out 8 seats, while Meretz, United Torah Jewry, and Yesh Atid each get seven.

Besides the Likud, the only party to “profit” from Degani's poll is Shas. Last week's polls showed the Aryeh Deri-led party splitting the Sephardic haredi vote with Eli Yishai's “The People are With Us” (Ha'am Itanu) party, with both polling barely four seats – on the borderline of oblivion, with the poll showing that neither might make the minimum needed number of votes for any Knesset seats at all. The Degani poll has Shas getting a handsome 9 seats, while Yishai's group does not make it to the plenum at all.

With power more equitably distributed among the smaller parties – due to the significant loss of strength of Jewish Home and the increased numbers for Labor and Likud – the “natural right” of Likud, Jewish Home, and United Torah Judaism scores only 45 seats, and with Shas's 9, the government would still have only 54 MKs – meaning that if Binyamin Netanyahu forms the next government, he would have to horse trade with Kahlon, Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, or Yisrael Beteinu's Avigdor Liberman – all of whom have grandly announced that they are not in the “pocket” of Netanyahu, or anyone else, Degani added.

Degani said that his polls were more accurate than other polling companies' because he took into account the fate of votes that would revert to one party or another in case a party did not achieve enough votes for an additional Knesset seat – or any seats at all. In such situations, the votes are moved to another party, with which the first group has a vote-sharing arrangement. Other polls, he said, do not include this feature.