New South Wales election minus three weeks

Mixed messages from two YouGov Galaxy seat polls, and also apparently from party internal polling.

The campaign for the New South Wales state election will officially kick off today with the issuing of the writs, which under the state’s fixed terms architecture occurs in unusually close proximity to election day itself. Nominations close on Wednesday, with ballot paper draws to follow on Thursday; early voting opens next Monday; and the big day itself is March 23, less than three weeks away. Do take note of the Poll Bludger election guide, to which a link can be found on the sidebar.

The Daily Telegraph gets the ball rolling today with two small sample polls, conducted last Thursday by YouGov Galaxy:

• An encouraging result for the Liberals in East Hills, where the Liberals got over the line by 0.6% in the 2011 landslide, then did very well to retain it by 0.4% in 2015. The poll result points to another squeaker, with Liberal and Labor tied on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Liberal 44% (44.2% in 2015), Labor 42% (42.1%), Greens 7% (6.6%) and Christian Democrats 4% (4.9%). The seat will be vacated with the retirement of its two-term Liberal member, Glenn Brookes. The sample for the East Hills poll was 508.

• A somewhat different story in Ryde, where the poll picks an 8.5% swing to Labor – although this still leaves Liberal member Victor Dominello with a 53-47 lead. The primary votes are Liberal 43% (53.7% in 2016), Labor 36% (28.9%), Greens 10% (11.5%) and Christian Democrats 5% (4.2%). In this case the sample was 534.

• The polls also inquired as to whether “the performance of the Scott Morrison-led federal government” made respondents more or less likely to vote Liberal. The result actually broke favourably for the Liberals in East Hills, at 35% for more likely, 31% for less likely and 28% for no influence, while the respective numbers in Ryde were 30%, 37% and 28%. A statewide YouGov Galaxy poll in late November had more likely at only 20%, less likely at 33%, and no influence at 35%.

• On the question of most important election issue, East Hills respondents came out for migration/population on 33%, well ahead of health, urban development and infrastructure projects, while urban development led in Ryde on 27%, with migrant/population way back on 18%. This either says something profound about the political geography of Sydney, with great portent for the federal as well as the state election, or something mundane about the vagaries of polls with error margins of 4%.

Also in today’s papers, Andrew Clennell of The Australian reports party polling has “picked up some seemingly random swings”, which have the Liberals hoping for a few gains from Labor to balance numerous anticipated losses elsewhere:

• The Liberals are said to be “marginally ahead” in The Entrance, which Labor holds on a margin of 0.4%, a fact reflected in regular visits of late from Gladys Berejiklian. Other Labor-held seats where the Liberals dare to dream reportedly include Granville (2.1%) and Port Stephens (4.7%).

• The Nationals are said to be concerned about Upper Hunter (2.2%) and a brace of North Coast seats: Tweed (3.2%), Lismore (0.2% in Nationals-versus-Labor terms) and even Coffs Harbour (14.3%). Coffs Harbour is being vacated with the retirement of long-serving member Andrew Fraser, and the polling reportedly points to a 10% swing. Conversely, the Nationals appear optimistic that the Greens will not repeat their coup in 2015 of winning Ballina, or of finishing second again in Lismore, where the threat comes from Labor.

• Another danger spot for the Nationals is the normally safe far western seat of Barwon, which is being vacated with the retirement of Kevin Humphries, and is reportedly under threat from Shooters Fishers and Farmers.

• The report also suggests the YouGov Galaxy result from East Hills might not be far off the mark, with the Liberals believing demographic change is working in their favour there. However, they are apparently pessimistic about Coogee and concerned about Penrith, Goulburn and Bega.

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.

94 comments on “New South Wales election minus three weeks”

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  1. Not entirely coherent to say the trust colluded with the Government re Allianz and leave 3 people on it especially that rather uninspiring Stuart MacGill

    [The trust has colluded with the NSW government to spend $730 million of taxpayers’ money on an unnecessary stadium instead of schools and hospitals for the people of NSW.
    The two board members who were elected by the SCG Members, Phil Waugh and David Gilbert will remain, as will former test cricketer Stuart MacGill.]

  2. Tristo……. the nationals are in big danger……….given the actions of Barnaby espousing moral values he does not live by and his role as water resources minister……” I will help the irrigators as I hate the
    Greens” and the existence of groups such as Any One But the Nationals and independents and the Shooters party………. there will be a very fractured rural vote with it being possible to detach votes from the nationals and not return it to them( one nation votes) ………. the national vote will fall below 45% in lots of seats………. then the last non national party candidate in the final 2 has an excellent chance.
    I will illustrate for Barwon………. labor increase to say 35% Nationals 40% shooters 25% final 3……… who wins? Alp is in with a chance………… if the shooters outpolled labor then they would win

  3. “It might be interesting to see if Gladys suffers an increased margin of loss on the basis of her support for the Northern Beaches tunnel which is likely to have a stack come out, ironically, near the old Walter Burley Griffin incinerator”

    Fixed that for you shellbell.

  4. I was also pleased to hear Michael Daley read Jones the riot act. Jones has shown no respect to Labor politicians of all stripes for years. His audience is old and declining, and probably does not vote for Labor anyway. Daley showed a bit of backbone, which was pleasing to see. Plus Daley was correct on the specific point: a bunch of unelected backroom operators on the board should not get to decide where hundreds of millions in State taxpayer funds get spent.

  5. I can’t read this election. I doubt Labor will get a majority in their own right, but if they push the coalition into having to do a deal with Shooters, Farmers and Fishers, the federal Liberals will have to deal with the consequence a month later.

  6. Well, the Sportsbet odds have moved to $1.75 for the ALP to form govt in NSW but this favouritism is not borne out in the individual seat odds. I checked them all again last night and there was positive movement for the ALP in one seat but they are still favourites in only 39 seats plus two Greens. The LNP are favourites in 47 seats with a few independents (like SFF) that they can rely on to retain government.

    It’s true that the ALP are more favoured to win all their 39 seats (though they are $1.90 in Lismore) but the LNP would have to lose all of their seats where they are paying $1.50 and above to not win 39 seats. That is a big call.

    I realise that, strangely, polling has been a bit dearth for this election, and the ‘vibe’ seems to favour the ALP but the bookies/punters only get so many contests ‘wrong’ and it would be a big call for the LNP to lose all those seats.

    Still two weeks to go and I’ll continue to follow the odds, and they will move in the handful of seats that are up for grabs, but that movement needs to happen soon or it’s an LNP Retain, as Antony Green would say.

  7. Yeah, can’t read this one at all. Only a swing to the govt or a massive landslide Labor win would surprise me. Gladys just hanging on, minority to either or a tight Labor majority would all seem to be in with a shout.

    Gladys just barely hanging on in minority with the support of a couple of rural indies who force to cancellation of stadium nonsense etc and then losing government through a by election after the Feds get what’s coming their way would probably be my preferred option. Although a better than polls expect Labor win sending utter panic through Robinson’s mob has a huge amount to recommend it also.

  8. Only 3 starters in South Coast . 1 Greens,2 Liberal and 3 Labor. No smarmy Christian democrat or right wing Independent.

  9. Except that, using probability theory, it can be calculated (to the best of our abilities) how many seats each party is more than likely to win (please note: I am not using ‘definites’ so please let’s not argue over semantics) as the bookies/punters generally get it right over a large sample. They get it right to the point where the bookie is expected to make a profit (and the punter, a loss). Over the course of hundreds and hundreds of similar contests the result is the expected outcome as per the bookie’s odds. You can choose to not believe that if you wish but the data (and the maths) proves otherwise. The bookies don’t offer odds to make the punter rich. They may get a contest here or there ‘wrong’ but over the long term they get it ‘right’.

    I collected this data for the last Federal Election and over 150 seats the bookies made a profit over the course of 150 results. A punter that bet $1 (hypothetical) on each seat would’ve lost money.

    Thus, from my probability calculations, I believe the LNP and the ALP are both on track to safely win 40 seats each. For the ALP to form government they would then have to win virtually all the close contests and whilst it’s not impossible that they may do that (after all, upsets happen in all contests). Think about how many underdogs win in the footy on any given weekend. The question is, though, how often do you see the underdog win every contest in a given weekend? That is, effectively, your answer as to the odds the ALP face (subject to updated polling showing a more pronounced swing, at which time, undoubtedly, some of the current odds will move and will change the probability calculation) and why it is difficult to accept them at $1.75 favourites. Again, neither I nor the maths is saying it can’t happen, but unless some more qualitative polling comes out then $1.75 seems optimistic for the ALP (FTR: I am hoping for an ALP win so I’m tempering my own optimism).

    As you are aware, it is about seats; not the statewide 2PP (though they can/do correlate). As we have all seen previously, you can win the 2PP but not win the required seats. Just like in the AFL where you can have more shots on goal but if you kick too many behinds you can lose to the team that kicked more goals.

    But…I don’t wish to speak too soon for there are still two weeks to go and I generally base my strongest ‘predictions’ (using the maths, of course) on the odds the night before when the last batch of polling is released.

  10. JackBlack: The state swing will get Labor to 40 seats by itself, without taking into account the various outcomes in seats currently siting on margins of between 6.2 and 12%. We know thos emargins are out of whack with the booths in their federal counterpart seats at the 2016 election – often by margins well in excess of 10%+.

    I’m currently in Wagga this week for work and the ‘vibe’ around town is that the coalition are absolutely hated. Speaking to folk in town who work across the southern and western regions of NSW – they are telling me that sentiment is like Wild Fire: they think ‘their’ traditional rural voice – the National party only represents mining and big Agri-businesses and those enterprises are themselves hated by many in the local community as well.

    The drought and the endless heatwave have created a mass epiphany amongst rural communities – they now clearly see the Nationals in Monaro, Barwon, Orange etc (and regional Liberals in places like Bega and South Coast) as mere likespittles for the big end of Sydney town and the coalition obsession with Sydney projects like stadiums, motorways and light rail leave rural and regional folk – traditionally conservative folk – white hot with anger. You can’t reduce this to some exercise of mathematical probability, other than to make the obvious point: over that 40 seat watermark that the state swing will deliver Labor – up to another 20 seats, many of them on very safe margins on paper, are in play.

    As a punter (which I’m not) I’d say Labor will easily pick up another 3-4 seats over that 40 watermark (which effectively likely delivers minority government to Daley) and are still good odds of picking up a seat or few in the remainder. In addition it is nearly assured that the coalition will lose more seats to independents.

    Its game on and my read on this election is that ‘the odds’ favour Labor – at least for a minority government.

  11. OL

    [No smarmy Christian democrat or right wing Independent]

    Don’t despair. You can still vote for them in the Upper House!

  12. Merde:

    The ballot draw for Dubbo has done Steve Lawrence no favours (even though he was up earlier making a sacrificial offering to the electoral gods):

    This from the Dubbo Liberal Newspaper:

    “[The Greens] Rod Pryor’s name was drawn first, second was Independent Mathew Dickerson, followed by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Lara Quealy, The Nationals’ Dugald Saunders, Country Labor candidate Stephen Lawrence, Joanne Coterill from Flux and Australian Conservatives (NSW) candidate April Salter.”

    With the Nats primary vote crashing to below 35% Lawrence needs to finish second after the distribution of preferences and his main rival in that regard is Dickerson (who by all accounts is aptly named). The ballot draw will not help. At all.

  13. Jack your same sums show the libs won’t win a majority either………. 3 greens plus Greenwich would support the alp leaves piper mcgirr and Donato shooters who will all be elected………..
    Ballina will be either alp or green. I calculate 25 seats competitive for the alp up to and including Bathurst with 2 to 3 excluded like Camden. The nationals are worse off as of the 14 seats they hold there are in excess of 10 that are competitive against alp, ind and shooters.
    Murray …. shooters, dubbo…… ind, Barwon… alp or shooters. etc.
    also against libs….. alp has chances in Bega and Goulburn………. what of Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Northern Tablelands……. ind. This election is wide open……. each seat on the swing chart is a seat by seat proposition besides I think the first 6…… likely alp . Alp will not lose any seats with a 5% swing their way

  14. After the 2GB ‘stadium stoush’ – NSW Labor odds have shortened

    Before – Labor 1.87 (50.4%) Coalition 1.90 (49.6%)
    Now – Labor 1.78 (52.3%) Coalition 1.95 (47.7%)

    And I hear that Berejiklian won’t nominate a time for demolition to start!
    Worried about two weeks of stadium demolition as a metaphor of her government’s demolition?

  15. Daley would be delighted if they were stupid enough to demolish the structure at SFS. He wins every day that is the main story. Simple message that cuts through.

    He’ll be hoping for another invite from Jones so he can give him another telling off too.

  16. There was a joint ALP-Greens rally outside Allianz this afternoon. You could literally hear the bulldozers inside the stadium going hard at it, whilst the protestors did a presser. Whilst the lawyers were still in court apparently.

    It doesn’t get any better for Labor politically than this. Free advertising about what people hate the most about this government (no not the actual stadium silly) – the arrogance. The secrecy. The vested interests of the Great and Good of Sydney town and bugger the rest of the community of NSW – especially outside the Eastrn Suburbs.

    As for that canard that Allianz is unsafe so it has to be demolished: consider this from Philip Cox, who designed the stadium. His firm has actually won the contract for the design of the replacement stadium. He’s been designing sporting stadiums that have continued to be build right up until today, including AAMI Park in Melbourne, and the Anna Meares velodrome on the Gold Coast.

    Of course, after 30 years it needs a refurbishment. Geez my home needs a new bathroom and kitchen, but I’m not about to demolish it just because I’d like a new Miele oven and marble bench top. FFS!

  17. None of the demo so far is particularly significant. The structural bones of the stadium are untouched. Everything taken out so far would be taken out if you were going to do a full refurb and upgrade.

    But the images of the work are just toxic for the Libs.

    And Labor hasn’t really hammered the light rail yet.

    Such an inept effort. Gladys seems a fairly competent administrator for a Lib, but damn even Trumble has better political nous.

  18. Ratsak. He is. I heard him interviewed about the stadium issue a month or so ago. He made much more than a passing reference to the Exhibition and Convention centre demolition and rebuilds during the interview. Not. Happy. Jan!

  19. Ratsak- Gladys is far from competent. In fact, she’s a walking disaster. From what I can see she is basically a cipher for lobbyists – a photioscopy – and the construction industry. She just does what she is told. That’s why she is prepared to risk her premiership over a stupid stadium. I think Malcolm may have had more core beliefs – seriously.

  20. And don’t forget, we sold the Land Titles Office – the world’s greatest moneyspinner – so we could build new stadiums we didn’t want.

  21. JackBlack, the bookies don’t adjust the odds to any objective set of “probabilities” (if there is such a thing relating to elections or horse races), they adjust them to balance the amount of money coming in on each horse/candidate. (At least the ones who really “make a book” do – some take a bit of a punt themselves by deliberately attracting more bets on something they think is overrated.) And conservatives generally have more money to throw around, as well as tending to believe that everyone else thinks like them. So the odds against (payouts offered for) Labor are often a bit higher than the “probabilities” suggest. Like the Queensland election in 2015 when the divvy for Labor forming government was $9.00 a day or two before the election.

  22. “Not surprised. It was some of his best work.”

    Thirty years ago I used to do the Nike Triathlon Series – which always have at least one event at Darling Harbour: 750M swim through the bilge water, then the transitions were set up on the floor of the exhibition centre. It was such a buzz zooming down the exit ramps at the back of the hall. I can also recall going to many a car and boat show there and a few Olympic events. The Convention Centre was fine as well. Their demolition (and that of the Entertainment centre) are prime examples of this Government’s Visigoth philosophy.

  23. And the Socialist Alliance almost on the far left, BSF! Only displaced by the Shooters etc who are far right on lots of issues but probably have a touch of the old protectionist agrarian socialists on economic issues affecting the bush.

  24. “And don’t forget, we sold the Land Titles Office – the world’s greatest moneyspinner – so we could build new stadiums we didn’t want.”

    And the Desalination Plant.

    And the Justice Precinct at Parramatta (to the Chinese Government in effect).

    And the beautiful Colonial Secretary’s Building on the corner of Macquarie and Bridge St’s (only years after the former Labor Governemnt completed a beautiful, sensitive and practical restoration – conversion into the 20 court Industrial Relations Court).


  25. I think you’ll find I said administrator, not leader or visionary. She strikes me as the type that would make a solid head of a department in the PS.

    Trumble had/has just one all encompassing core belief – Malcolm Bligh Turnbull’s glory.

    Neither is a political leader’s bootlace.

  26. and yes Lands Title Office sale is fucking Vandals stuff. And not because of the income, but because the damn thing is a fundamental part of our legal system. Why not just privatise the courts and charge everyone accessing the legal system even more than it already costs?

    But then dumbarse Labor Premiers in other states have followed the idiocy.

    We can’t really ever expect brilliant political leadership. But it would be nice if it wasn’t actively fucking destructive and idiotic. For a while at least.

  27. “At least Cox still has the Maritime Museum…

    (until the Libs decide to bulldoze that too)”

    So, you’ve heard about Meriton’s unsolicited proposal to build Australia’s answer to the Burj Khalifa?

  28. Gladys does not possess good campaigning skills her numerous visits to wagga during the byelection led to the libs losing votes more then she feared. Orange campaign..;.; a bribe and a threat at the same time.. a new stadium worth $25m if you vote national this only cemented. the shooters party mp’s vote.

  29. I have money on a hung parliament, but as we get to the pointy end I’m thinking Labor might have been the better bet.

    I’ll be letterboxing for Keep Sydney Open on the weekend. Hopefully they’ll counteract the usual right wing fringe that this state always seems to elect.

  30. I presume it’s not worth the risk of working against the re-election of one of the strongest current anti-lockout voices in the Legislative Assembly.

  31. Jack Aranda

    And are Labor and Liberal really side by side in the middle of the upper house ballot paper?

    That would make some PB commenters positively green with envy for NSW voters!

  32. ratsak

    Does it now cost consumers three times as much to access the Land Titles Office? (which I thought I read somewhere).

    I would love to find some old Kennett Liberal election handouts saying how privatising electricity/gas/water/trains/trams/buses etc would lead us to Nirvana. I do keep some of this stuff!

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