Labor’s routine late-campaign line that the result will be closer than expected has been delivered with an extra urgency in the past few days. All-conquering Kevin Rudd was enlisted to warn voters "not wake up on Sunday morning, having engaged in a protest vote, a protest vote which went wrong, with a state Liberal government elected as a result". John Watkins just told Steve Price on 2UE that he expected a swing against Labor of between 5 and 7 per cent. Their concern is understandable, as Labor faces the situation campaign managers dread the most: a universal expectation of victory for a government that deserves to lose. Some might argue that Peter Beattie performed well in similar circumstances last year, but his government was eight years old rather than 12, and had a shorter (though by no means insubstantial) list of disasters for which it could not escape responsibility. It also had a more talented leader, which makes it all the more remarkable that Morris Iemma has built an apparently successful campaign on his superiority to the alternative.
I have thus made a slight reassessment to my predictions, based on the premise that today’s opinion polls will boost the anti-Labor protest vote. The Hunter seat of Port Stephens and the new seat of Wollondilly in Sydney’s outer south-west have been moved into the Liberal column; I would also be surprised if they did not win one out of Penrith, Drummoyne, Menai and Miranda, but I rate Labor’s chances at a little over 50 per cent in each case. However, I have also been shamed into a change in the other direction by Charles Richardson of Crikey and Geoff Robinson of the South Coast (in comments), who both think it odd of me to have picked Tweed for the Nationals in an otherwise grim assessment for the Coalition. Charles notes I have tipped "Nationals in Tweed and Labor in Murray-Darling, but if incumbency is powerful enough to keep Murray-Darling Labor I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in Tweed as well, where the demographics are better". The answer is that I think Peter Black might prove popular with the new voters brought into his electorate by the redistribution, but this might be due to my cartoon-ish view of rural life. However, I am persuaded that changing demographics will be enough to give Labor’s Neville Newell a very narrow win in Tweed.
Taken together, this puts my prediction at 51 seats for Labor, 23 for the Liberals, 11 for the Nationals and six for independents.