I haven’t had much to contribute on late counting in New South Wales for two reasons, the first of which is that I’ve been busy labouring over my federal election guide (stay tuned). The second is that the process hasn’t excited much interest – the result of the election was clear on the night, almost down to the last seat; that result involved remarkably little change on 2015, with Labor gaining just two seats (Coogee and Lismore), and another two lost by the Nationals to Shooters Fishers and Farmers (Barwon and Murray); and there were no late count surprises, the nearest exception being an unexpectedly close final result in comeback, where Labor candidate Cameron Murphy can now add a 429-vote losing margin to go with the 372-vote one he suffered in 2015.
Seventy-three out of the 93 seats produced Labor-versus-Coalition results at the final count, and their combined result showed a two-party swing to Labor of just 1.0%. We will require a full accounting of preference data to know the final result for certain (and these are, eventually, produced with exquisite detail in New South Wales), but as the final result in 2015 was Coalition 54.32% to Labor 45.68%, we can presumably expect it land somewhere around 53.3-46.7. This is solidly better for the Coalition than was generally anticipated – the last Newspoll had it at 51-49, although it did well enough at predicting the primary vote (41% for the Coalition compared with an election result of 41.6%; 35% for Labor compared with 33.3%; 10% for the Greens compared with 9.6%).
All that remains now is to determine the final result for the Legislative Council, on which the button will be pressed on Friday. The best places to look here are Kevin Bonham’s regular updates and the Twitter account of Ross Leedham. Even at this late stage, it would seem that the raw primary vote figures are an unreliable guide, because most of the outstanding votes are either absents or concentrated in non-Sydney seats or some combination of the two. Furthermore, Antony Green has related from party sources that twice as many voters have taken the effort to go beyond a first preference vote at this time, and we can only guess at this stage where they are likely to go.
Based on the progress primary vote totals, you would think the most likely result was seven seats apiece for the Coalition and Labor, two each for the Greens and One Nation, and one each for Shooters Fishers and Farmers, the Liberal Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party. However, Ross Leedham’s efforts to fill the gaps in the count suggest the Coalition should win an eighth seat, and the experience of preference flows in 2015 suggests Animal Justice should be well in contention as well. Keep Sydney Open seem to my eye to dropped out of contention, but it appears the current numbers may be selling them short as many of the outstanding votes are absents, most of which come from the party’s home turf in Sydney.
As to who might get squeezed out, my reading of the situation is that preferences should ensure Labor’s seventh seat; that One Nation’s second candidate should make it, based on my presumption that their high name recognition will translate into a solid flow of preferences; and that the last seat is a three or maybe four horse race in which David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats is the front-runner, ahead of the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice and, maybe, Keep Sydney Open. However, there’s a fair bit of speculative guesswork in all this, so only time will tell.
The table below shows the latest raw results from the progress count, in percentages and quotas; the most recent projection from Ross Leedham; Kevin Bonham’s calculation of how many quotas the various contenders gained on preferences in 2015, where party-equivalent figures are available, and keeping in mind that we can apparently expect about 60% more of these this time; party seat counts for 19 seats that seem definite to me (it’s possible that I’m being generous to Labor here); and a marker for parties in contention to win the two final seats.