New South Wales election: the morning after

A quick and dirty review to an election result that proved surprisingly similar to the one in 2015.

I lack the energy to offer much in the way of a post-mortem at this late hour, except to say this was a remarkably status quo result. The Coalition dropped around 3% on the statewide primary vote, and Labor and the Greens about 1% apiece, so presumably the Coalition landed somewhere between 53% and 54% on the two-party vote. This is a couple of points better than the polls suggested, making this the first election result in a very long time that surprised on the up side for the Coalition (UPDATE: Thanks to NathanA in comments for jogging my memory about Tasmania last year). To a certain extent, that might be explained in terms of the Newspoll, with its Tuesday to Thursday field work period, only picking up part of a final week shift away from Labor – although it doesn’t explain an exit poll that was in line with the two-party result.

The Coalition went into the election needing to restrict its losses to six to retain its majority, and it is only clear that they have lost three. Two of these losses were to Shooters Fishers and Farmers, who had a rather spectacular night in picking up all three of their target seats, with Barwon and Murray joining their existing seat of Orange (I was suggesting the Nationals were more likely to retain Barwon quite late in my election night commentary, but they actually have a very handy lead there). Labor’s only clear gain is Coogee, which they now look to have in the bag, although by a lower than expected margin. It looks like they will fall short in East Hills and Penrith, but I will keep an eye on those all the same. Independent Mathew Dickerson has come close against the Nationals in Dubbo, but he is slightly behind and independents tend to lose ground in late counting.

The one seat on which I have crunched numbers is Lismore, which is likely but not certain to be lost by the Nationals. The question is whether it will be lost to Labor, who lead the notional two-party candidate, or the Greens, who had an unexpectedly good night despite the drop in their statewide vote, retaining their three existing seats of Balmain, Newtown and Ballina, and being well in the hunt in Lismore to boot. The two-party count has Labor with a lead of 1840, which looks too much for the Nationals to reel in – they should gain about 500 when pre-polls that have thus far been counted only on the primary vote are added, and the 2015 results suggest they will gain a further couple of hundred when absents and postals are added. However, Labor candidate Janelle Saffin holds a lead of just 24.85% to 23.90% over the Greens, and the race to stay ahead at the last exclusion could go either way. If the Greens win, they will certainly get enough preferences from Labor to defeat the Nationals UPDATE: Didn’t have my thinking cap on there – they may very well fail to get enough Labor preferences to do so.

The basic election night count for the Legislative Council accounts for 48.4% of enrolled voters, and only provides specific results for above-the-line votes for seven parties, when an “others” total that lumps together above-the-line votes for all other parties, and below-the-line voters for all and sundry. The only votes identified as informal at this point are those ballot papers that were left entirely blank – less obviously informal votes are presently in the “others” pile. Disregarding that complication, the current numbers show a clear seven quotas for the Coalition, six for Labor, two for the Greens, one apiece for One Nation and Shooters, leaving four to be accounted for.

The Coalition has enough of a surplus to be in the hunt for one of those; Labor probably doesn’t; One Nation look in the hunt for a second seat; the Christian Democrats and Animal Justice are both possibilities. The wild card is that three quotas under “others”, which would maybe a third of a quota’s worth of below-the-line votes for the seven main parties. My very late night feeling is that the Liberal Democrats (i.e. David Leyonhjelm), Australian Conservatives and Keep Sydney Open might all be in contention.

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.

687 comments on “New South Wales election: the morning after”

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  1. Generic Person @ #468 Sunday, March 24th, 2019 – 5:21 pm

    It was frankly an appalling sight to witness every left wing journalist and participant on social media do everything possible to politicise the brutal death of 50 people whilst their bodies were still warm!

    Hang on, haven’t you just done the same thing with your comment there? And didn’t Gladys, when she started talking up Labor’s association (real or fabricated) with SFF?

  2. i agree completely briefly

    SFF is off limits, like ON

    whatever where labor thinking? didn’t they make a mistake with this group before

    the optics were bad with voters, and i suspect the reality even worse

    call yourself farmers and fishers (why fishers anyway) – no nascent NRA here

  3. I see 2016 “Mediscare” is being re-litigated by one person here who is still disgruntled that the Turnbull Coalition was forced to combat that campaign on route to a torrid re-election. Poor things.

    There is only one question voters need to ponder when considering who to vote for on the matter of health policy (well, a string of them actually):
    1) Which party first introduced universal access to publicly funded healthcare?
    2) Which party ferociously opposed it then?
    3) Which party removed it as soon as they were back in power?
    4) Which party restored it (as Medicare) as soon as they were back in power again?
    5) Which party ferociously opposed its re-introduction?
    6) Which party stubbornly maintained its opposition to Medicare through two further federal election cycles?
    7) Which party was so torn between its visceral hatred of Medicare, and its visceral fear of alienating an electorate that loves it, that it actually went to the 1990 election without a health policy?
    8) Which party spent a four-term stretch in Governmeny bleeding money away from public health towards lining the pockets of the private health insurance industry, through their tax rebate?

    These all lead to the only question on this that really matters:
    “Who do you trust better to protect and advance Medicare and the public health system: Labor or Coalition?”

  4. Hang on, haven’t you just done the same thing with your comment there? And didn’t Gladys, when she started talking up Labor’s association (real or fabricated) with SFF?

    Pretty much the entire LNP response and media response has been an effort to minimize damage without backing away from Islamphobia and hate. eg Morrison on the Project.

  5. Well, what do you know. The Greens ran a low down, dirty campaign against Janelle Saffin in Lismore. And the ALP vote increased 2%. 😆

  6. In fact the LNP response aligns perfectly with the old criminal strategy ‘Admit nothing, deny everything, make counter accusations. ‘

  7. our KB gets a mention in the interesting write up of the SFF, and what their intentions are federally

    “We’re quite ecstatic,” Mr Borsak said. “It took the Greens about 25 years to get three seats in the lower house and we’ve done it in three years.”

    The Shooters made their first bid for a lower house seat at the 2016 Orange byelection and won by fewer than 100 votes. Incumbent MP Philip Donato vastly improved on this margin on Saturday after securing over 50 per cent of the primary vote.

    “We were pretty confident we would get Orange back, but certainly nowhere near the vote we got,” Mr Borsak said.

    Psephologist Kevin Bonham said the results in Murray and Barwon were devastating for the National Party.

    “There’s some booths where the Nationals have been gutted – they have barely got a vote,” Dr Bonham said.

    For example, at the Menindee Civic Hall booth in Barwon the Nationals received seven of 269 votes.

  8. Minor trivia: it appears that only two MLAs (Bruce Notley-Smith [Lib] in Coogee and Austin Evans [Nat] in Murray) have been defeated, although Ben Franklin MLC [Nat] in Ballina was unsuccessful in transferring to the lower house (and will presumably be appointed back to his old seat).

    In the LC, there are at least two defeated (Peter Phelps [Lib] and Dawn Walker [Grn]), and three with fates uncertain: Wes Fang (Nat, probably re-elected), Paul Green (CDP, hard to say), and Jeremy Buckingham (Ind ex-Grn, probably defeated).

    These are pretty tiny numbers for any state, let alone NSW!

  9. bug1 @ #556 Sunday, March 24th, 2019 – 6:45 pm

    Margins in East Hills is 0.3, and Dubbo 0.7, has they come in a bit today or am i imaging it ?

    The non-Coalition candidate has improved slightly in all of the ABC’s ‘In Doubt’ seats today. If the trend continues, good evidence that Daley lost it in the final days of the campaign. For the obvious reason(s).

  10. Newtown and Ballina swining 4% to the Greens. Balmain (birthplace of the NSW ALP) swings 6% to the Greens. Heartland secured.

  11. C@tmomma
    Fantastic! The Greens’ candidate for Lismore, Sue Higginson, has conceded defeat! It’s now Janelle Saffin on 17,437 versus Nationals candidate, Austin Curtin on 15,488.
    Looks like it will be +1 for the ALP.

    That’s great news – congrats to Saffin, and congrats to your best friend C@T! They obviously ran a good campaign in Lismore to be able to defy the statewide trend.

  12. My friend in Balmain was just telling me that he couldn’t understand how Jamie Parker of The Greens got back in in Balmain. He said he’s such a do nothing MP. And Jenny Leong in Newtown as well. She was going to stop the West Connex. That promise should have been an albatross around her neck.

  13. nath @ #570 Sunday, March 24th, 2019 – 7:57 pm

    Lismore to fall to the Greens next time. You can’t stop the demographic changes going on up there.

    In your dreams. You appear to have not noted how many votes the Nationals candidate got. I have been told that a large number of those voters supported Janelle Saffin as well. So The Greens can whistle dixie in Lismore for the foreseeable.

  14. Anyone with a bit of time on their hands –

    The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

    English | March 19, 2012 | ASIN: B007M5V5ZK, ISBN: 1452656908 | M4B 64 kbps | 11 hrs 48 mins | 320 MB

    For eighteen years, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith have been revolutionizing the study of politics by turning conventional wisdom on its head. They start from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don’t care about the “national interest”-or even their subjects-unless they have to.

    This clever and accessible book shows that the difference between tyrants and democrats is just a convenient fiction.

    Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them.

    The picture the authors paint is not pretty.

    But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.

    Unzip with winrar etc

  15. JimmyD @ #567 Sunday, March 24th, 2019 – 7:55 pm

    Fantastic! The Greens’ candidate for Lismore, Sue Higginson, has conceded defeat! It’s now Janelle Saffin on 17,437 versus Nationals candidate, Austin Curtin on 15,488.
    Looks like it will be +1 for the ALP.

    That’s great news – congrats to Saffin, and congrats to your best friend C@T! They obviously ran a good campaign in Lismore to be able to defy the statewide trend.

    It got down and dirty, JD, according to my friend. Very personal.

  16. Confessions:

    Has Peter Phelps really been defeated? That would be great news

    Yep. He was bumped to 9th on the ticket and they currently have 7.6 quotas, so Phelps is definitely gone.

  17. Question
    I would be very surprised if the Wiki article on Deakin was not written by Frickeg and Psephos. I think you are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs

  18. There is quite a bit about this thread that embarrasses me as the publisher of the site, and I will only say that I don’t have the time or energy to adjudicate over it all. I will be running a tight ship though for at least the rest of the evening, so please do us all a favour and think carefully about what you’re saying before you hit submit.

  19. Zoidlord says:
    Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 7:59 pm


    It swing to ALP 0.1%.
    Greens had -2.1% swing against them.
    Perhaps the result of a redistribution. You can’t deny the demographic changes going on up there that have turned Ballina Green and comes close to making Lismore Green.

  20. Oakeshott Country:

    I would be very surprised if the Wiki article on Deakin was not written by Frickeg and Psephos. I think you are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs

    I have actually only made six edits to the Deakin page – four reversions of vandalism, one change of “Ballarat” to “Ballaarat”, and one addition of categories. I haven’t done much at all on the PMs – and honestly only really do any serious work around election time these days.

  21. Frickeg:

    He has deleted his twitter account, even though I could swear I saw him post something egregious about another candidate only days ago. I guess if ever there was to be a sign of here today, gone tomorrow, that would be it 🙂

  22. Oakeshott Country
    says: Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    You could well be right, but my main point was to agree with JimmyD about GP’s nonsense.

  23. Janelle Saffin has a truckload of life experience outside of politics, unlike far too many apparatchiks from all parties. A member of the Socialist Left faction, she has done great work in campaigning against uranium mining and providing assistance to women affected by physical or sexual assault. What’s more, she had the good sense to stand by Kevin Rudd while most of the federal caucus was engaging in their three-year-long suicide mission.

    Barring the Nats coming back into contention, it’s very much a win/win outcome in Lismore for progressives. Blue Dog Laborites who assumed they’d seen the last of Saffin after her deselection in 2003 now have to plaster on fake smiles for her return; success really is the best revenge!

  24. From the ABC website:

    Janelle Saffin
    Country Labor

    64 year-old Saffin served in the NSW Legislative Council from 1995 to 2003 and then won the local seat of Page at the 2007 federal election. Saffin increased her majority at the 2010 election before being defeated by a 6.7% swing on the 2013 defeat of the second Rudd government. Saffin was a lawyer before her parliamentary career and has worked actively in the past on human rights issues. She was involved in East Timor’s transition to self-government and worked as an advisor to President Jose Ramos Horta. She is a long-time resident of Lismore, contested the seat at the 1991 state election before her career in the state upper house and federal lower house. Now 28 years after her last attempt in Lismore, she hopes to win election to the state lower house.

  25. vibe

    Blue Dog Laborites who assumed they’d seen the last of Saffin


    Yes. Infighting is all down to the right wing. The left just want sweetness and light and would not dream of engaging in the stupid positioning and infighting that undermines the ALP in NSW as a whole. As evidenced by the pointless triumphalism above.

  26. Saffin has a track record of serving the Labor movement in and out of parliament, Mckay, was linked to preselection with the Tories. Who would you rather have as a worker, representing you? Mckay is an embarrassment. NSW Labor need more Saffins and fewer Mckays.

  27. mick Quinlivan @ #541 Sunday, March 24th, 2019 – 7:36 pm

    The posts don’t index by number for me can anyone help?

    There is an extension which enables post numbers, quote, block.

    This estension suits desktop machines using either Firefox or Chrome or
    Android devices using Firefox.

    Links are:-

    Chrome Extension
    Firefox Plugin

    I hope this is of some assistance to you.

    Goodnight all. 📺 Vera

  28. ‘Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has moved ahead of Prime Minister Scott Morrison as preferred prime minister, according to the latest Newspoll to be published in tomorrow’s edition of The Australian.

    The Labor leader has a two-point advantage over the PM – 34 per cent to to 32 per-cent, with a whopping 34 per cent undecided as the nation awaits the starter’s gun for this year’s federal poll, expected in May.

    It’s the biggest “undecided” pool in the pollster’s history…’

    ‘And in a thoughtful four-page column piece, Paul Kelly opines: ” The result is an excellent opportunity for a natural leader of Mr Morrison’s ability and fighting spirit to turn things around for our nation’s sake”.

    “I wouldn’t want to be in Shorten’s shoes right now and I’m told Anthony Albanese is marshalling his forces and is ready to strike.”

    ‘…In two-party preferred terms, Labor still commands an election-winning lead – 53 per cent to 47 per cent – despite the LNP narrowing the gap slightly from a fortnight ago.’

  29. You make an excellent point Michael A.
    In my experience I have found that alot of this comes as a surprise to some.
    It wouldn’t hurt Labor to do a little education campaign to remind punters of
    how much they have to be grateful for and where it came from.
    And I would limit it to Medicare.

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