Judgement day

Entries to the New South Wales election guide have now been appended with predictions; taken together, these point to comfortable Labor majority with 52 seats out of 93, down from 55 at the last election. The Liberals are tipped to go from 20 to 21, with the Nationals steady on 12; eight seats are down for independents, compared with six in 2003. I do in fact anticipate a fairly solid drop in the Labor primary vote, particularly in Sydney, and for a lot of fat to be trimmed from Labor two-party margins. However, this will not produce a big haul of seats because of the lack of low-hanging fruit. Camden is rated as the sole metropolitan exception, due to the profile of the Liberal candidate (local mayor Chris Patterson) and the substantial boundary changes that will curtail sitting member Geoff Corrigan’s incumbency advantage. By contrast, I am tipping the new seat of Wollondilly to go Labor’s way despite a smaller margin (4.6 per cent compared with 8.7 per cent), due to a) their coup in landing formerly independent mayor Phil Costa as candidate, and b) its location in Sydney’s semi-rural hinterland, which I imagine will make public transport less of a factor. Elsewhere in Sydney, the verdict on Penrith, Drummoyne, Menai, Miranda and Londonderry is "close but no cigar".

Outside Sydney, I am tipping the Nationals to gain Tweed while suffering a notional defeat in Murray-Darling, where Peter Black’s larrikin charm will reverse the effects of a redistribution that has put him 1.4 per cent behind the eight-ball. My assessment is that there will be a net decrease of one in the number of independents, if you include Steven Pringle in Hawkesbury and Bryce Gaudry in Newcastle (respective Liberal and Labor members who quit their parties after preselection defeats). Former Liberal member Peter Blackmore is marked down to win Maitland from Labor, while John Tate gets the nod in Newcastle (although it was a tough choice between him and Gaudry). The Liberals will finally recover Manly due to the appeal of their candidate Mike Baird and the low profile of the incumbent, David Barr. Sitting independents in Pittwater, Dubbo, Tamworth, Sydney, Northern Tablelands and Port Macquarie are tipped to be returned; I state this with great confidence in the latter three cases, but am less sure about the first three.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

50 comments on “Judgement day”

  1. Perhaps the problem for the Libs is not really this election but the one that preceded it. As you’ll recall there was a lot of in fighting at the time, the party was led by Chikarovski. Bob Carr was incredibly well respected at that time. For these reasons I think the Coalition should pick up some seats by default; possibly double the two you predict.

  2. The outcome of Manly will be decided by the two female candidate. Both Barr (Ind) and Baird (Lib) will not get the 50% required to get them over the line. It will be the preferences from Sarah Weate (in the Green Corner) and Penelope Wynne (Independent, wearing Pink). Sarah has preferenced David Barr and Penelope has preferenced Mike Baird. Mike Baird has to get the same primary votes as per 2003 Election and if Penelope Wynne get a reasonable numbers of votes say above 2% then Mike is across the line. It is possible that this time the greens could out poll Labor, there normal conbined vote is about 20%, this has been enought to push David Barr (Ind) over the line, as the Lib in 1999 and 2003 where not getting any preferences from anyone

  3. Jim – that was the ’99 election. Brogden was leader in 2003 and equally failed to make any inroads into the Labor majority.

  4. A positive result will be a uniform swing of around 5-6%. Anything less will make 2011 even more impossible. A Barry O’Farrell, Pru Goward ticket looks increasingly appealing.

  5. Swinging voter, candidates who get less than 5% rarely deliver preference flows. Even Green preferences rarely get above 65% when they poll less than 5%. A vote of less than 5% usually means most voters didn’t get that candidate’s how-to-vote, in which case they made up their own decision of preferences. The lower the vote, the more random the preference flows and the less the preference flows look like the how-to-vote card. The more how to votes you distribute, the higher your primary count and the stronger your preference flows.

    The danger for Barr in Manly is that he will finish second on the primary vote, and will be unable to catch up because of exhausted preference from candidates like Wynne. Under optional preferential voting, past evidence shows you can assume any candidate with less than 3-4% will have an exhausted rate of over 50%.

  6. guesses re seats
    I would suggest the status quo of 2003 is the most likely result.
    Newcastle ? any one of 3 candidates. Why maitland to vote for Peter
    Blackmore and not Liberal or Labor When Mr Blackmore is clearly Liberal
    alligned? I suggest the demographic changes are more likely to mean
    labor holds Tweed and loses Murray- Darling. I think it unlikely the liberals
    will lose any of their marginals such as south coast. epping etc.
    This suggests Labor with 52 to 56 seats.

  7. John Aquilina (ALP) in Riverstone is under some pressure despite a 13% margin becasue of changs in his electorate’s demongraphics.

    However the popular local member’s co-religionists have given him a free kick in the southern end of Riverstone where he is less well known

    On page 28 of the Blacktown Advocate is a full page colour advertisement extolling the virtues of the Catholic schools in Glenwood and Stanhoipe Gardens (areas where the Libs won handily in the 2004 Federal Election). Slap bang in the middle is a carefully posed full face image of John, smiling away, (there is no photo extant of his doing anything else) whilst “talking” to some adult person.

    Fact: No other school has advertised in the Advocate or any of the other Blacktown papers this week.

    Fact: Most local schools when they do advertise only manage a quarter page at best

    Fact: The advertisement carries no electoral authorisation

  8. On reflection “in the southern end of Riverstone where he is less well known” should have read “in the new development estates in the southern end of Riverstone where he is less well known”.

  9. It will be interesting to see if the ever confident Paul Gibson’s margin of 24% in Blacktown is dented on Saturday.

    The Blacktown Advocate asked the candidates for their views on a range of topics. Six responded. The only one who didn’t see fit to respond was the funky Gibbo – not even wanting to share his views on the importance of the family in our society and particularly Ugandan affairs which, as has been well reported, he has conducted extensive research with companions Sandra Nori and the former Mrs Koperberg.

    Perhaps as a non-resident member (he actually resides in the comfortably affluent North Rocks some distance away from his working class area constituents) he forgot the Advocate circulates widely in his electorate.

    The Advocate was miffed and has strongly editorialised against him pointing out that Gibson’s record in parliament as regards Blacktown has been limited to making an average of five statements a year. The editorial ends “Make sure your vote counts for what you believe this Saturday because four years is a long time.

  10. In Manly (refer to posts above), the primaries, flow to Barr, and exhausts were like this in 2003:
    GRN 7.8%, 45%, 41%
    ALP 12.0%, 55%, 39%
    (based on the Exclusion counts, which double-up somewhat). This reversed the LIB lead on primaries (41%:33%) to a 51.3% Barr on TCP. Both GRN and ALP issued HtVs that preferenced Barr at #2 and are doing so again. The long-term average GRN-ALP flow in compulsory pref voting is 83%. In Manly in 2003, it was 9% The Wynne votes may look like the Norek votes in 2003 in both primaries and flows. Her pre-poll HtV preferences Baird 2, GRN 3, no number for Barr. Overall, if the LIB:IND primaries lead is less than 7%, Barr will probably get up. GRN primaries may be higher in 2007, but the flows will probably be the same. This would give Barr a couple of extra %age points breathing space- he might be able to get there on a 10% deficit on primaries.

  11. I’m not usually one for overselling the Libs, but talk of a result that makes 2011 an impossibility seems seriously overstated. The mid-range of Labor predictions appears to be about 51-52 seats, which is only 4 or 5 above the independently governing majority figure of 47.

    51-52 for Labor would likely leave the coalition with about 35-36 (their best realistic result IMO), and for them to achieve 47 in 2011 would be a very tough ask as a result. But if the Libs got a sizeable swing in the 2011 election and the Parliament was hung, there is no absolute rule that the party with the highest number of seats must form Government, and independents would be perfectly justified in hitching their wagon to a coalition on the rise over an old government on the way out. A smart Goward/O’Farrell would start cultivating the independents circa 2010, rather than engaging in the ‘no deals, no compromise, they’re all Labor stooges’ grandstanding that they did this time around.

    I know that talking about the election after this one is Mackerras-like in reckless foolishness, but if there were a book on it, I’d be punting against this Labor government going for 20 years.

  12. I seriously doubt Blacktown will be in trouble, but it might be interesting to see if Labor cops a hit in their own safe seats, due to the combination of inflated vote and the sense of near-certain Labor victory- plus the general malaise at a 12 year old government. Optional Preferntial Voting does have the potential to cause an upset, if enough disaffected Laborites vote Green/Independent and exhaust.

  13. According to today’s HORNSBY ADVOCATE, the Libs are worried about their chances of holding on to both Epping and Hornsby. One is predicting a bloodbath on Saturday, another says there is a big swing out there, and it’s not going our way.
    Hornsby is more marginal than Epping, but I’d be shocked if either or both fall to Labor – the demographics in this area of Sydney overwelmingly favour the Liberals.

  14. I’m not so sure Simon. NSW is demograghically aligned to Labor, as the Coalition has too many votes tied up on the North Shore. I see little evidence that State Liberal will be improving their game compared to the last three elections, and it’s more than possible that Iemma Labor will not smell quite so much in four years. Iemma will beavering away on bread and butter stuff like schools, hospitals and public transport. I’m thinking that this year was the best chance for the Libs, and they blew it.

    Long term Labor government are not unknown in NSW, the 24 years 1941-65 springs to mind – Labor won 8 elections on the trot, which would equate to 2027 before we see a Liberal Premier again.

  15. I’d think a comparison of 1993 and 1996 federally might be more appropriate to the current NSW situation. Keating against the odds won in 1993 and was hammered in 1996.

    The votes tied up on the North Shore argument is rubbish – its worth 1-2% tops. The problem for the Libs/Nats is so much of what was theirs has been taken by the ALP, ie Ryde, Strathfield, Drummonyne, Oatley, Miranda etc and rural electorates being whiteanted by former Nats/ independents. This is what will be the battleground of 2011.

    As for Iemma’s performance over four years who knows? The first 9 months to Christmas will be telling. Is he going to cut public spending, dump the unions and try and revive the NSW economy? or is he going to hope revenue comes in from a natural recovery in the construction industry and adopt a steady as she goes approach and borrow when he needs to. I think he is much more likely to adopt the later approach given his personality and temperament. Is that enough to carry him through? Seems to have been so far!

  16. Evan, of course there is that type of talk locally in Hornsby, Epping and Lane Cove. They do not want to be perceived to be taking the seats for granted, particularly in the face of installing candidates.

    Labor emplyed the same ploy by overstating the ‘internal polling’ in marginal seats. It’s all mindgames..

  17. It is tolerably clear that in NSW state elections from 1941 to date the electorate has leaned towards the Australian Labor Party. Hugo’s last post, however, cannot be allowed to pass without comment because it contains a few heroic assumptions (eg. that the Australian Labor Party will lift its game and the Coalition cannot, that Morrie, bless his heart, will be “beavering away”, that Liberal votes will continue to be concentrated on the North Shore). Pardon me for stating the obvious but shouldn’t we leave the analysis of the likely winner of the 2011 poll to a little closer to that event? Anyway, I thought Simon’s point was that talk of the “impossibility” of a Coalition win in 2011 is overstated. I would add that it is also premature.

  18. A lot of assumptions on 2011 are that Goward will be deputy.
    I will be watching Goulburn with interest.
    Goward is a cossetted public servant with the air of having been kept away from the not nice side of life.
    She is also an out of area politican who was parachuted into the seat.
    She is also very close to Howard.

  19. Regarding Camden, it’s also worth noting that, since the seat was created in 1981, only one person has managed to be re-elected in the seat, out of five Members of Parliament representing the district.

    It was held by Ralph Brading of the ALP from 1981 to 1984, when he was replaced by John Fahey, who switched seats in 1988, when it was won by Peter Primrose of the ALP (presumably due to a redistribution, how else the Libs losing a seat to Labor in the 1988 disaster is a mystery to me), who lost the seat in 1991 to Liz Kernohan of the Liberals, who managed to hold the seat for three terms, to be replaced by Geoff Corrigan of the ALP in 2003, when she retired.

  20. I guess the reason that I and others have started positing on the various prospects for 2011 is because the Libs themselves seem to have given this one away. I think Rod B’s post was relevant – Lib supporters out there seem to be assuming that Goward will be a success in politics (assuming that she wins). It is a measure of how piss-poor the NSW Liberal Party is that we need to talk up an untried neophyte, who should really be eased into things (eg Garrett, Robb, Turnbull in Federal politics) instead of suddenly being made deputy and/or leader post-election.

    A Labor government post-election could go one of two ways. It will either fall apart horribly and be the worst government in living memory, or it will start to pull things together and be a broadly competent (though nothing more) government. Iemma will attempt to head a “back to basics” government. Whether that will eventuate or not, well, I guess we’re about to find out, but my guess is that if they can hold decent margins in the marginals on Saturday, it’ll be next to impossible for Coalition in 2011.

  21. Edward StJohn Says:
    The problem for the Libs/Nats is so much of what was theirs has been taken by the ALP, ie … Drummonyne.

    Simon Says:
    You’re taking a pretty liberal interpretation of ‘was theirs’ on that one, ESJ: Drummoyne has been continuously held by Labor since 1962!

    I agree with your more general contention, though, in the sense that a part of the point I was making is that the coalition don’t need to start knocking off heartland Labor seats to be in a position to claim Gov’t. They just need to get back a bowerbird collection of seats that historically were conservative (or marginal) but they’ve been blown away in post-1999 (or given up to independents), including some that are now listed as ‘safe Labor’ (e.g. Blue Mountains).

    And that’s not disputing that it is arguable that NSW is ‘naturally’ a Labor state; in fact, if Iemma wins convincingly on Sat leading one of the more ‘on the nose’ Australian governments I can recall, that’ll be the strongest available evidence that it is naturally Labor.

    A further confounding factor in all of this totally premature discussion: I expect you would get slim odds right now that we won’t have a Labor Cwth government in 2011.

  22. There is no such thing as an election result which predetermines the outcome of the following election. Labor could win every seat in the state on Saturday, but if the voters want to throw them out in 2011 then they will. That’s why Howard’s large majority won’t protect him a bit if the electorate really has turned on him.

  23. “There is no such thing as an election result which predetermines the outcome of the following election. ”

    Quite so…… but…

    Over about 250 Australian elections, there is a significant correlation between the size of the majority and the size of the subsequent swing. The bigger they come, the harder they fall.

    But no Government with more than 68% of the seats has ever been defeated at an election

  24. re Adam’s last comment
    Yes if there is really a mood for change then such a change will occur.
    BUT if one party does very well at an election then it can take 2 elections
    to bring about the change. eg Wran won a landslide in 1981 in 1984 he lost votes and seats and 1988 (minus wran) was a change of government.

  25. “You’re taking a pretty liberal interpretation of ‘was theirs’ on that one, ESJ: Drummoyne has been continuously held by Labor since 1962!”

    Including in 1967 when the Liberal candidate was one John Winston Howard. He couldn’t knock off the much loved Reg Coady despite actually living in the electorate and Robin Askin getting back in. What a sad loss to state politics that was.

  26. “Marcus Says:
    March 22nd, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I seriously doubt Blacktown will be in trouble”

    Marcus heaven forfend that you should think I was suggesting this was the case. It any fair universe Gibbo would be gone for all money but he isn’t.

  27. Antony, since you’re here: Can you think of an occasion on which an incumbent government (state or federal) has been as far behind in the polls this close to an election as Howard is now, and has succeeded in winning nevertheless? If so, what were the circumstances? (Perhaps the answer should be at the federal thread.)

  28. Does anyone know whether NSWEC conducted a dress rehearsal for the count tonight? Thursday is usually the night, but I’ve not seen much sign of it.

  29. I have no idea Adam. I’ve never seen Newspoll record a federal result like that and have been too busy to look up records. (It’s tally room week and i’m busy fine tuning software.) The poll may be a correct measure of how voters would have voted last weekend. Does it predict a result for the Federal election? Wait till after the budget I say.

    Predicting an election result from current polls is a process of extrapolation. As the econometricians jokes, extrapolating is like driving a car using only the rear vision mirror. You have the past to guide you, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to end up at the same place as last time. A point to remember for everyone using those graphs that compare polls in 2001, 2004 and 2007.

    All I remind people is that when the Arnold Labor government was defeated at the South Australian election of 1993, the Liberal Party recorded 61% of the two-party preferred. That was a deeply deeply discredited government. The Howard government might be struggling a bit, but is it as much on the nose as the Arnold government?

  30. Ah!…. I saw THAT, but I thought the DRO’s would have been too busy with pre-poll for them to have it in polling hours. Thought it was just another computer test.

  31. Anyone care to take a guess on the Legislative Council?

    I’m at 9 Labor, 7 Coalition, 2 Green 1 CDP, 1 Democrats. Can’t work out who’ll get the last one and I’m not sure if I’m right about the rest anyway.

  32. I agree with your tip that Labor will win Wollondilly – but don’t think public transport is not an issue in the electorate. While buses are virtually non-existent, a train line runs smack bang through the middle of Wollondilly shire, with stops at most of the villages, and a decent portion of people use it to work in neighbouring Campbelltown or the city (a very long trip so if trains run late it’s a huge issue). And don’t forget too that a huge chunk of the seat of Wollondilly is made up of suburbs of Campbelltown.
    The other hot issue in Wollondilly which could turn people away from Labor is mining damage – to homes, rivers, etc. The government recently went against loud and clear community opposition and approved a new mine too close to the Nepean River.

  33. Strange Bedfellow Policy

    (slightly irrelevant)

    Not sure if Kevin Rudd’s recent associations are of sound judgement. First, he champions a costly broadband upgrade project, drawing lavish praise from Telstra (of all the corporate friends one could make…).

    Secondly, he drives home his support for arguably the most incompetent governing body in the country, making a show of being chummy with the Priemma in front of the cameras.

    What is he thinking?

  34. Daniel B says:
    Not sure if Kevin Rudd’s recent associations are of sound judgement…he drives home his support for arguably the most incompetent governing body in the country

    Me says:
    Rudd driving home his support for the Howard Government! I find this hard to believe.

  35. Barry says
    Rudd driving home his support for the Howard Government! I find this hard to believe.

    How do you draw your conclusion? The economy is going well, best in 15 years, the budget is in Surplus, unemployment rate is 30 year low, interest rate is low. If you are think that is incompetant, you must have hated the last Labor federal government

    The State’s budget is shot, public sector wages is out of control, trains are never on time and has no emergency plan, hospital is under funded, X city tunnel is a joke, indirect taxes is the highest of all states in Australia, growth is lowest of all state in Australia, public school principals (normally labor voting) have said that apart from teacher’s wages the government has failed, police (normally labor voting) has said that apart from police wages, the government has fail ……. can you see a pattern there.

  36. Hi William, What is your tip for Maitland? It is Labor retain on the seat guide but “Blackmore is marked down to win Maitland from Labor” above.

  37. “The other hot issue in Wollondilly which could turn people away from Labor is mining damage – to homes, rivers, etc. The government recently went against loud and clear community opposition and approved a new mine too close to the Nepean River.”

    Heh that’s a good idea. A vote for the coalition with David Clark as defacto premier will certainly mean that our state’s environment will be better protected than under the ALP. Not.

    Fact: the worst ALP government is always going to be better than the best Tory one.

    I mean people really have short memories of the real devastation that St Nick Greiner perpetrated on State services and infrastructure in pursuit of the fulfillment of their dry economic wet dream.

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