High school once seen as election bellwether gives Blue and White huge win

Students at Ramat Gan’s Blich give 47% of vote to Gantz and Lapid, while Likud is far behind with 21%; but school has in recent years lost its luster as an accurate forecaster

Blue and White's Gabi Ashkenazi speaks to a crowd at Blich High School in Ramat Gan, March 5, 2019 (Video screen capture)
Blue and White's Gabi Ashkenazi speaks to a crowd at Blich High School in Ramat Gan, March 5, 2019 (Video screen capture)

A poll at a Tel Aviv-area high school once seen as a bellwether of general election results has shown Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid’s Blue and White party winning big in the upcoming April 9 vote.

With 619 students at Ramat Gan’s Blich High School participating, Blue and White received 47 percent of the vote (the equivalent of 56 seats in the 120-seat Knesset), while the ruling Likud party garnered only 21% (25 seats).

While up until 2013 the traditional Blich poll was seen as a largely reliable forecaster of election results, it has in recent years appeared to lose some of its magic touch: In 2013, Lapid’s Yesh Atid came out on top, and while the school has taken pride in predicting the party’s surprising showing in the election (19 seats, far more than polls had projected), the winner in that vote was still emphatically Likud with 31 seats. Meanwhile, in 2015 the Zionist Union (an alliance between the Labor and Hatnua parties) was victorious, but Likud went on to win that election as well, 30 to 24.

This year’s results also appeared to be out of sync with the national electoral reality.

The party that came in third in Tuesday’s vote was the left-wing Meretz with 10%. Next was Kulanu with 7%, Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party with 5%, Labor with 3%, the Union of Right Wing Parties, Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher and the New Right with 2% each. Arab parties received 1% of the vote while ultra-Orthodox parties received none.

Recent national polls have indeed shown Blue and White coming in first in the election with around 36-37 seats, but Likud is far closer behind in the Blich vote with 29-30 seats.

A poll by the Kan public broadcaster Friday showed the New Right, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism and the Arab Hadash-Ta’al parties win seven seats each. Labor, Shas and Meretz would all win six seats, and Kulanu, the Union of Right Wing Parties and the second Arab party, Ra’am-Balad, would each get five seats.

A Channel 13 poll also released Friday showed largely similar results, with slight variations.

School Principal Hila Romash said of the vote: “We’re not trying to be spot on. We want our students to exhibit active civic involvement and grapple with essential civic issues.

“We were successful in predicting the rise of Yesh Atid and on the other hand some parties have no presence here — we are able to show trends.”

Despite Blich’s apparent decline as a predictor of vote results, its poll habitually draws in senior figures from various parties, and Tuesday’s event was no different.

In attendance were the leaders of Labor, Kulanu, Meretz, Gesher and Zehut, as well as representatives of New Right and Blue and White. Likud did not send a representative.

Blue and White’s Gabi Ashkenazi, a former IDF chief of staff, praised the “great energy” and promised to bring “change” to government while Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon called the vote “a celebration of democracy.”

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