Poll after poll reveals a relatively consistent pattern in Israel’s upcoming elections: while the Kachol Lavan party led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is on track to win the greatest number of mandates, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears better situated to cobble together a coalition. However, what these polls routinely fail to divulge is that the abundance of smaller parties hovering dangerously close to — and in some cases, well below — the electoral threshold could make the final tally difficult to predict. Nonetheless, Israel is presently trending toward a relatively even split between the right and center-left blocs, something that should dispel long-held assumptions for partisans on both sides of the divide.

For the right, Benny Gantz’s strong showing up to this point in the campaign has momentarily done away with the almost clichéd truism of Netanyahu as a magician incapable of defeat. This is, of course, not the first time the prime minister has encountered an uphill campaign for reelection: recall that in 2015, polls pointed to a Zionist Union victory, only to be proven wrong at the very last second. There is no guarantee Kachol Lavan will ultimately amass the most seats, but the prime minister is clearly spooked and is resorting to one dirty tactic after another in order to tarnish the former chief of staff’s name, going so far as to encourage a smear campaign regarding his rival’s mental health. An attempt to paint Gantz as a liability-prone candidate by revealing that his phone had been hacked, supposedly by the Iranian government, yielded short-term dividends that lasted all of a few days before quickly receding from the headlines. Nor has Netanyahu been successful in capitalizing on Gantz’s lack of experience in talking to the media, including a recent interview on Israeli television that made the latter appear unprepared and unprofessional, yet had few adverse effects on his popularity.

President Trump’s dramatic recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory may not end up doing much to strengthen the Likud either; for many voters, the prime minister’s chummy relationship with the current administration and thus his supposed ability in exerting influence over the president was a given and therefore part of a package deal, and the move did not change the day-to-day reality of life on the Golan, a piece of land that Israelis across the political spectrum have already internalized as their sovereign possession. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that he would open a “diplomatic office” rather than a full-fledged embassy further undermined the prime minister’s brand as a master diplomat.

Yet while the Likud’s attempts to taint Gantz have proven ineffective, so too has the left failed in sidelining Netanyahu even at the nadir of his power. Conventional wisdom (or, if you’re cynical, wishing thinking) assumed the double whammy of a plethora of indictments coupled with a last-minute decision by Gantz and Lapid to unite their lists would ultimately lead to a sea change in voting habits (and the prime minister’s cozying up to Kahanists seemed to have only compounded his problems). And for a short time, it did: earlier polls, in some cases, predicted a greater than five-seat lead for Kachol Lavan. However, after the initial euphoria wore off, the gulf quickly disappeared, with Likud even overtaking its main rivals at one point.

Indictments notwithstanding, Netanyahu has not yet been tried or convicted for any wrongdoings, leaving him with an opening to victimize himself and push forward the oft-repeated conspiracy theory of a left-wing plot concocted to remove him from power. His devoted followers, who make up a sizable chunk of the electorate, have proven only more than happy to oblige and unquestioningly rally around him. And this is where the prime minister excels: engaging in confrontational politics that allow him and his constituents to take solace in the notion that any challenge to his behavior is always made in bad faith. Even the latest revelations regarding Netanyahu’s dealings with the submarine affair, speculating that he may have had financial incentives in seeing their purchase through, have not put a serious dent in his popularity, nor have the more recent claims about Likud-sponsored bots spreading misinformation about Gantz.

And when they aren’t rejecting allegations against him, many Netanyahu supporters are likely to have accepted corruption as the lesser of two evils in order to keep an untested figure like Gantz out of power. As a result of this rigidness, Kachol Lavan has found it difficult to draw voters from the right en masse, leaving the party to try and poach votes from left-leaning parties like Labor and Meretz, a dangerous calculation that could harm prospects to put together a final coalition. In that case, Gantz will be heavily reliant on a number of right-wing parties not passing the electoral threshold, a problematic gamble to be sure.

Pundits are currently predicting a Netanyahu victory, yet one week in Israeli election time is an eternity that could easily yield some surprises. The commonplace beliefs held by each side of the political map reveal some uncomfortable truths, confirming yet again that Israel has been and remains a heavily divided country whose cleavages are only likely to become more entrenched. In that regard, it is unsurprisingly similar to a whole slew of Western states that are also witnessing increased political polarization, although that’s cold comfort given the depths to which politicians will sink in demonizing their opponents to retain power. Whoever emerges victorious after next Tuesday will, with the exception of a national-unity government, preside over a country where half the voting public will continue to view their premiership through a heavily partisan lens, and one that may very well see their presence as an existential threat to the state’s well-being.