Netanyahu’s polling numbers up after IDF operation in Gaza

The prime minister is once again the most preferred leader and the Likud is regaining some ground, but the coalition would still lose its majority.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his party have received a terrific boost in ratings with the perceived success of Operation Shield and Arrow following months of sliding numbers due to the judicial reform controversy.

Channel 12’s poll Sunday showed that Netanyahu had regained his position as “most preferred” for prime minister over the opposition leaders. While he just nosed out National Unity head Benny Gantz 38% to 37%, there was a much wider gap between the prime minister and opposition leader Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, with Netanyahu leading 42% to 28%.

While favoring Netanyahu personally, however, Channel 12’s respondents gave devastating news to the coalition as a whole: The Likud would tie with National Unity at 27 seats apiece – but with a drop from its current 32 MKs and lower numbers for its No. 1 partner, the Religious Zionist party, the bloc would win only 54 mandates. Meanwhile, the opposition would squeak into government with 61 seats, including the Arab Ra’am party that sat in the Bennett-Lapid unity coalition.

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Kan News gave less favorable numbers to Netanyahu personally, with Gantz beating him 41% to 40% as the preferred leader for the country and only a 10-point spread in the prime minister’s favor when compared to Lapid.

In a twist, Kan’s respondents gave Netanyahu’s party the best results, with most choosing the Likud if a vote was held that day, for a total of 28 seats. Yet the bloc as a whole would not be able to form a government; in its current make-up, it would receive only 55 seats.

On the other hand, its rivals’ 65 seats include five each for the Arab Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am parties, and it would be extremely doubtful that Hadash-Ta’al would soften its anti-Zionist stance enough to join a government if the Jewish parties would even accept it, leaving the current opposition one mandate shy of what it would need.

The mixed news is still a positive development for the prime minister. On the day the operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization began in Gaza last week, Channel 13 reported a just-concluded poll showing that both Gantz and Lapid would beat him in a head-to-head match-up, with Gantz thumping him 51-34% and Lapid edging him out 41-37%.

Party-wise, the Likud had slid all the way down to 20 seats, while the National Unity party had shot up 17 mandates to 29, bypassing Yesh Atid, which fell from 24 to 21 seats. All the parties in the current coalition would lose seats as well, and the bloc would  sink to 46 seats, while the opposition could copy its unity format to easily form a government with 63 mandates.

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Now that Operation Shield and Arrow is over for now, it remains to be seen whether Likud can maintain its jump in the polls, especially considering the strike that began Monday by dozens of municipal and regional councils in protest of a clause in this year’s budget that many see as unfair.