9.34pm. Since the Labor-versus-Greens results yet to be reported are barely even of academic interest (Labor currently leads 64-36), I’ll more or less wrap it up here, although I’ll have another look at the numbers later tonight given that we should get some pre-polls and postals. To summarise: Labor has easily won Charlestown, being just a shade under 50%, but has struggled a bit in the face of a strong performance from independent Karen Howard in Newcastle, who seems to have inherited the Liberal vote. Nonetheless, Labor’s 37.1% to 25.9% lead over Howard on the primary vote is too big for her to run down on preferences.
9.31pm. Now all the polling booths are in, Carrington and Mayfield East being the last to report, and it looks like this:
Labor 11,831 37.1% (+6.1%)
Howard 8,263 25.9%
Greens 6,460 20.2% (+5.8%)
Others 5,364 16.8%
With about half of the preferences likely to exhaust, Howard would need a four-to-one advantage over Labor on the remainder, which obviously isn’t going to happen. It’s equally clear though that the Greens are not going to overhaul Howard and take second place, but the NSWEC is nonetheless proceeding with its Labor-versus-Greens count, and has reported results from two booths so far.
9.21pm. Howard barely makes double figures at the large Stockton booth (1931 votes), pushing her total down to 26.6% with Labor up to 36.4%.
9.19pm. Adamstown reports (1160 votes), Labor doubles Howard’s vote but the totals aren’t much changed, Labor on 35.4% and Howard on 27.8%.
9.06pm. The NSWEC two-party results page is configured for a Labor-versus-Greens count, but it seems clear enough that Karen Howard will in fact finish second. Presumably they are holding off on conducting the two-party count until its clear which two candidates they should be looking at.
9.00pm. Lambton High is smaller (1260 votes) but has a similar result, and the gap widens a little further.
8.59pm. The big Waratah booth (2266 votes) has really widened the gap – Labor now leads 35.0% to 28.1%.
8.56pm. Hamilton South Community Hall (716) is the first Newcastle booth where Labor has over 50%. It was Labor’s strongest area in 2011, along with still-to-report Stockton.
8.50pm. Sixteen of 24 booths in from Charlestown, and Labor remains fractionally over 50% on the primary vote.
8.46pm. WEA Hunter Laman Street is quite a good result for Labor from a weak booth, their primary vote up 8.6% and a 30.4% to 28.0% win over Howard. Booths outstanding are Adamstown, Carrington, Hamilton South Community Hall, Lambton High, Mayfield East, Stockton and Waratah, which reads like a list of Labor’s very best booths. Their current lead over Howard is 33.5% to 29.2%, which should now start to widen decisively.
8.38pm. St Johns Cooks Hill is a weak result for Labor, with no swing and a 35.6% go 25.7% win to Howard.
8.17pm. St Columba’s Adamstown booth in Newcastle has a big 10% swing to Labor, and they win the primary vote there 34.1% to 31.8%.
8.12pm. Two strong booths for Labor at Hamilton North (651 votes) and Islington (1078) swing 5% and 9% to Labor, their total lead over Howard now out to 33.9% to 28.5%.
8.04pm. Newcastle: Small Hamilton North booth (651) gives them a fairly weak 5%+ swing, but they outpoll Howard 41.8% to 22.4% and edge ahead on the primary vote.
8.00pm. Eleven booths of 24 in from Charlestown, and Labor still over 50% on the primary vote.
7.56pm. Two more Newcastle booths in: St Andrews Mayfield (1160 votes), a strong booth for Labor where they’re up 9%, and The Junction (1886 votes), a weak one where they’re up 5%, and where Howard has outpolled them 36.8% to 28.9%. Labor has a narrow overall primary vote lead, which should widen from here.
7.53pm. Booths reporting in Newcastle are continue to be their weakest from 2011. Merewether Uniting was somewhat stronger for Labor than some of the others, but they’re only up 5%, and have been outpolled by Howard 35.9% to 30.7%. Still, a 5% primary vote increase would probably do it for Labor, even if they weren’t generally doing better than that elsewhere.
7.50pm. Tighes Hill has Labor up 8%, and point to the strong vote for the Greens, who are on 31.6% in this booth to Labor’s 36.8%. They seem to be up at least 5% across the board.
7.48pm. Back in Newcastle, a weak swing to Labor of a little over 4% in the Newcastle East Public School booth. This is once again in the weak part of town for Labor, and Howard shades them on the primary vote, 29.7% to 29.6% (out of 1477 votes).
7.47pm. Meanwhile, Labor continue romping it in in Charlestown, now on 52.6% with eight booths in.
7.45pm. New Lambton South, a strong booth for Labor, is back on script with an 11.1% increase in the Labor primary vote, and a 45.4% to 23.3% lead over Howard.
7.43pm. Another bad booth for Labor reports in Newcastle, Holy Family Church Hall Merewether, and Howard has outpolled them 41.4% to 23.5%. This time, Labor’s primary vote is only up about 4%.
7.40pm. If, as it seems, Karen Howard has succeeded in establishing herself is the proxy Liberal candidate in Newcastle, Labor could be said to be heading for a two-party swing of nearly 10% against a margin of 2.6%. So while they continue to trail on the primary vote, they are likely to win very comfortably unless the current pattern changes.
7.38pm. Even bigger Labor swing in the large Charlestown booth of Warners Bay Public (2112 votes) – up 23.0%.
7.32pm. Swings against Labor in the three Newcastle are between 7.2% and 11.7%, which continues to suggest a primary vote of around 40%, which under OPV shouldn’t be a problem for them. There are no such dramas in Charlestown, their primary vote up 17.4% in a third booth if Wirapaang.
7.28pm. The first booth from the Labor-voting part of town, Mayfield, is as strong as Labor needs for it to be: of the 854 votes, they beat Howard 47.2% to 16.1%.
7.20pm. Antony Green nonetheless projecting over 40% primary vote for Labor in Newcastle, so clearly things will get better for them from here.
7.16pm. Howard also wins big in Merewether Heights Public School – fewer votes this time, 1137 rather than 2129 in Hamilton South, but she demolished Labor 41.5% to 22.9%. This is an even worse booth for Labor than Hamilton South though nonetheless, Labor will need to turn it around big in the stronger parts of town for them.
7.11pm. A big result for independent Karen Howard in the first booth from Newcastle, Hamilton South (located in the Newcastle electorate but serving both as a polling booth, as is New Lambton South), who has outpolled Labor 37.7% to 32.9%. This was one of Labor’s worst booths in the electorate in 2011, but even so this is a strikingly good result for Howard.
6.55pm. Second booth is New Lambton South, with 207 votes. Here Labor is cut finer by the Greens, leading 35.9% to 25.1%. Their primary vote is up about 10%, rather than 18% in Hamilton South.
6.37pm. The first booth is Hamilton South in Charlestown, and Labor has 44.3% of its 61 formal votes and the Greens in second on 18.0%, which does not suggest any surprises are brewing.
6pm. Live coverage of the Newcastle and Charlestown by-elections in New South Wales, which Labor are expected to go untroubled in the absence of Liberal candidates.