7.57pm. The two-party count in Murray has nearly caught up with the primary vote count, and the projected and actual Nationals leads have converged a bit above 3%, which I still expect to increase by about 1% in late counting. Whatever lingering doubt might have remained in Cootamundra has been dispelled by 3921 pre-polls, which suggest my projection of the Nationals gain on late counting in Murray may be a bit conservative.
7.38pm. In Murray, there are four booths outstanding on the primary vote, and 16 on two-party. The Nationals have a raw lead of 2.8%, which I get up to 3.4% by filling the gaps on the booths that have only reported primary votes. I further project them to gain 1.0% after declarations and pre-polls are added. So while it’s close, it’s difficult to see them losing.
7.34pm. Seven more booths have reported two-party results from Murray (dizzyingly quick count here) and the Nationals’ lead has indeed come down to 1.5%. However, now my projected result is rosier for them, putting them 3.4% in front.
7.28pm. A strong booth has blown the Nationals two-party lead in Murray out to 4.5%, with 19 booths in out of 47 on the two-party count, but I’m still projecting that to 1.5% by projecting the reported preference flow on to the 20 booths for which only primary vote numbers are available. Probably though the relative strength of the Nationals in those booths will be reflected in a stronger flow of preferences.
7.24pm. Now neck and neck between Labor and the Shooters for second place in Cootamundra. Nationals look safe on 46.3% primary, although I’m projecting that to come down to 42.9% (which is still safe).
7.21pm. The Nationals’ raw two-party lead in Murray is 2.5%, but that comes down to 1.6% if reported preference flows are projected across booths from which we only have primary vote totals. Conversely, my projection suggests the Nationals will pick up 0.8% on the primary vote between now and the end of the count.
7.13pm. I’ve had my eye off the ball a bit in Murray, and Shooters have surged there in the meantime: their raw primary vote deficit is only 40.9% to 33.4%, and they’re only 1.3% behind on the raw two-party count. Nor are my primary vote projections much different from the raw result. Most likely result is that the Nationals will get home, but there won’t be much in it.
7.12pm. Thirty-two booths now in from Cootamundra, and we appear to have a consistent trend of the Nationals doing better in the larger centres: the primary vote swing against them is now 21.0%, and the projected total up to 43.1%, which would be sufficient to win them the seat even with a better flow of preferences to Shooters than Murray seems to suggest.
7.06pm. With three more booths reporting two-party in Murray, the flow of preferences to Shooters has strengthened since my earlier update on that subject, now up to 36.6% with the Nationals on 19.6%. However, the exhaustion rate is approaching 44%, which would put them out of the hunt in Cootamundra if replicated there.
7.03pm. With 27 booths in out of 47, the primary vote swing against the Nationals in Cootamundra continues to moderate, now at minus 23.9% and projecting to a total of 40.2%. Shooters (26.6%) are keeping their nose ahead of Labor (23.0%), but would need a much stronger flow of preferences than would seem plausible.
7.02pm. Labor on over two-thirds of the vote in Blacktown, which is probably the last you’ll hear from me on that subject.
6.59pm. The first two-party count results from Murray are good news for the Nationals, despite their small numbers, with 42% exhausting, and Shooters (32%) getting barely more than the Nationals (25%). If that’s repeated in Cootamundra, they should be okay.
6.50pm. Eighteen out of 47 booths now in from Cootamundra, though naturally this is all the very small ones, and perhaps the most favourable to Shooters. The Nationals’ position has improved a little: I’ve now got their primary vote booth-matched swing at minus 27.5%, which projects to a total of 36.7%. That’s dangerous for them on its face, but the larger booths could behave differently, and we’re completely in the dark on preferences. The foregoing assumes that Shooters will indeed finish second ahead of Labor — their lead is 27.9% to 22.6%.
6.39pm. The NSWEC is doing a Nationals-versus-Labor two-party throw in Cootamundra, which isn’t going to be much use.
6.37pm. Better news for the Nationals from Murray, where the booth-matched primary vote swing from the first four booths is 13.4%. If consistent, that would put them at around 42%, which should be enough.
6.33pm. Ten very small rural booths are already in from Cootamundra, and Matthew Stadtmiller is polling very strongly so far, on 24.1%. On a booth matched basis, the Nationals vote has very nearly halved, from 61.9% to 31.6%. Larger towns may behave very differently however, and I have little sense on what Labor’s 18.2% will do as preferences.
6pm. Polls have closed for today’s trio of New South Wales state by-elections, in Blacktown, Cootamundra and Murray. Live commentary to follow.