Upper Hunter by-election live

Live coverage of the count for the NSW state by-election in Upper Hunter.

Click here for full display of latest results.

9.23pm. We’re still awaiting a pre-poll result from (I think) “Upper Hunter EM Office”, but that’s it for my commentary until the small hours. My live results page will continue ticking over tonight and over the coming days. A reminder that this is the only place you can find swings reported at booth level, that took me at least a week of fairly heavy-duty labour, and that donations are gratefully received through the “become a supporter” button at the top of this page.

8.43pm. Clarence Town now in on TCP, and it swung 22.5% to the Nationals.

8.38pm. Oddly, despite the Nationals doing quite badly on that Quirindi pre-poll, they got a 4.0% swing on two-party. I still have a big gap on my TCP swing projection and overall swing projection, which is presumably because two of the three booths where we only have primary vote results, Clarence Town and Singleton Heights, both had Labor down by about 17% on the primary vote. When their TCP numbers are in, presumably the TCP swing projection will shift in favour of the Nationals.

8.15pm. The Quirindi pre-poll booth is in on the primary vote, and it’s weaker for the Nationals than their overall election day result — down 6.8% as compared with 2.0%.

8.07pm. We’re at the stage of the count where the election day pattern is clear, and those booths yet to report results — 11 for the TCP count, but only one for the primary — are not going to change things much. The known unknowns are the pre-poll booths, of which we will get the Singleton and Quirindi results later this evening, and whether the dynamic there is different from election day; and how non-major party candidates go on preferences, which holds out at least the theoretical possibility of Labor not making the final two-party count, followed by who-knows-what.

7.49pm. As someone just pointed out to me on Twitter, the large-ish Clarence Town booth has the Nationals up 14.6% on the primary vote, so the conventional TCP-based projections should get a kick in their favour when its TCP result is in.

7.42pm. Projections based only on the TCP count — mine, Antony Green’s and Kevin Bonham’s — all show very little swing. However, my overall projection, which presumes to make use of primary vote results from booths where the TCP is yet to be reported, adds about 2% to the Nationals.

7.37pm. The largest booth to report so far, Muswellbrook Indoor Sport Centre, has recorded the biggest drop in the Nationals primary vote — 9.4%.

7.35pm. My preference projections are back to showing much the same splits as occurred in 2019, with no particular increase in the exhaustion rate. My projection of the Nationals swing/winning margin has accordingly come down a fair deal, without suggesting they’re in any danger (from Labor).

7.25pm. There’s quite a big gap between my two-candidate preferred swing of 2.1% to the Nationals, which booth-matches the TCP results in the 12 booths where they’ve reported, and my overall projected swing of 7.6%, which projects the changes in preferences on to the 14 booths that have so far only reported primary votes. Presumably the former figure will inflate as those 14 booths reports their TCP numbers.

7.15pm. Six booths now in on two-party. The exhaustion rate now looks higher than at the election, which sees off any hope Labor might have had that something would turn up on preferences. The gap in the primary vote swings in favour of the Nationals has also widened, the projected Nationals primary vote is now in the thirties, and my projection says 100% Nationals win probability — over Labor. But could one of the minor party candidates preference snowball their way ahead of Labor into second place?

7.12pm. I’ve just corrected a bug that was screwing up my projected two-party swing display. It’s predicting a swing to the Nationals of around 5%.

7.08pm. Observe my booth results map carefully and you will now see numbers indicating the two-party results in the two booths where they are available. Now I’m sure everything’s working, a plug for donations if you find this useful or interesting, which you can do through the “become a supporter” button at the top of the page — naturally there was a fair bit of work involved in all this.

7.06pm. Antony Green’s numbers basically align with my own, which is always reassuring.

7.03pm. Okay, now we’ve got two booths in on two-party preferred, and they are behaving very similarly to how they did at the 2019 election. That’s enough for my system to effectively call it for the Nationals, but I’d want to hold out for a few more booths. Note that this is entirely a two-party model, which is to say it rates the Nationals a near certainty of beating Labor — it’s a different story if another candidate makes the two-party cut. I may be being generous though in allowing that as a possibility, given the gap between second and third.

7.01pm. So going off primary vote projections based on the existing booth-matched swing, both Nationals and Labor are projected to be in the twenties (though only just in the case of the Nationals). I guess with that much non-major party vote out there you can’t rule out something surprising happening with minor candidates when preferences are distributed. Kirsty O’Connell, One Nation and Shooters are all just above 10%.

6.59pm. I observe that Kirsty O’Connell won the Wingen booth. You can see this by observing the booth results map at the bottom of my full live results page — the booth is colour-coded in grey, whereas other booths that have reported are green or red depending on who out of the Nationals and Labor has the highest primary vote.

6.56pm. A bit surprised there are still no two-party numbers — the NSWEC may be holding them back until they’re satisfied they have picked the right candidates for the notional count.

6.54pm. I believe we can be confident the final preference count will be Nationals versus Labor.

6.52pm. Primary vote results coming in at a fair clip, and there’s a fairly steady picture of the Nationals primary being down 3%-4% and Labor being down 5%-6%. If that holds, Labor needs to pull a rabbit out of its hat on preferences, on which we will continue to fly blind until two-party counts start to come in.

6.47pm. Eleven booths now on primary, and Labor’s drop is back to being a few points worse than the Nationals. Still nothing on two-party.

6.45pm. Ten booths now in on the primary vote and things looking a little better for Labor. But with the non-major party vote so high, this is very hard to read without information on preferences, which we won’t have until a two-party count comes through.

6.43pm. Given the booths in so far are from Nationals territory, they would have to be encouraged that their primary vote is almost holding up — Labor’s greater drop comes off a lower base. Other than that, the presence of a One Nation candidate is gouging support from Shooters.

6.40pm. Eight booths in on the primary vote now, and the Nationals still holding up somewhat better than Labor on the primary vote. Still nothing on two-party preferred though — maybe the preference dynamics will be different this time.

6.37pm. I think I’ve picked out most of the bugs, but disregard my projection until a TPP result gets reported. At the moment we’ve got five small booths in on the primary vote, and it does seem like Labor are down more than the Nationals.

6.30pm. That’s more like it. Two booths in. Only 201 votes, but so far, so interesting — both major parties down about the same amount on the primary vote.

6.28pm. Okay, the first booth is in and, frankly, disregard my results display for now — there’s a pretty big glitch in there.

6.15pm. Greens activist @seamus_polsci relates on Twitter that “the NSWEC has indicated that they will only be counting the election managers (Singleton early voting) and Quirindi early voting tonight (about 7,700 voters out of just about 19,000) rest will start counting from 9am tomorrow”.

5.45pm. Polls will close in 15 minutes. I’m in my usual state of semi-confidence about my live results facility working — it’s complicated on this occasion by the fairly high chance that the two leading candidates will not be those picked out by the NSWEC for the notional two-candidate preferred count, who, I think it’s safe to say, will be the Nationals and Labor candidates. Anyway, we’ll see how we go.

Some explanatory notes about the booth results map at the bottom of the page. Where no result is in for a booth (i.e. all of them at first), the location is indicated by a white dot. When a primary vote result is reported, the dot becomes colour-coded to indicate the party that won the primary vote. When a two-party result is reported, the dot turns into a number indicating the (colour-coded) winning party’s percentage two-party vote.

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.

152 comments on “Upper Hunter by-election live”

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  1. C@t,–

    Voting has just closed in the Upper Hunter by-election.

    Six weeks ago, I asked the people the Upper Hunter to give me a chance.

    After years of sending billions down to Sydney and getting nothing in return, I asked for a chance to fight for our share.

    No matter what happens tonight, I’m incredibly proud of the campaign that we’ve run to get the Upper Hunter our fair share.

    And none of this would have been possible without you.

    So to every single person who supported my campaign – whether you made a phone call, knocked on doors, made a donation or shared a Facebook post – thank you.

    Jeff Drayton
    Labor candidate for Upper Hunter

  2. Sorry can’t muster any enthusiasm win, lose or draw for obvious reasons.
    Expect a comfortable win by the nationals with a swing to them. Bruz was really smug yesterday.
    Probably check in tomorrow. Maybe.

  3. ABC fun facts

    Live updates
    8mminutes ago
    By Paige Cockburn

    Fast facts about this seat
    For the last 90 years the seat of the Upper Hunter has only been held by male National MPs

    The Nationals enjoyed a firm grip on the seat until 2015 when there was a 21 per cent swing against them, partly caused by conflicts between agriculture and mining in the area

    The Nationals first preference support has declined further at the last two elections which Michael Johnsen only narrowly won

    It is now considered a marginal seat for the Nationals at 2.6 per cent

    A YouGov poll conducted this Monday produced a two-party preferred result of Nationals 51 per cent and Labor 49 per cent. However 19 per cent of the 400 respondent were undecided

    The Upper Hunter has a mix of industries, including coal mining, prime agricultural districts used for horse studs, vineyards and beef production which all compete for space

  4. Between OPV and the large number of seemingly competitive candidates, I’m not going to venture a guess at how tonight will go.

  5. Upper Hunter facts:
    The member between 1872-4 was Dr John Mildred Creed who in 1885 was translated as a life appointment to the legislative council, where he stayed until his death in 1930, thus being the second longest serving member fo the mother of Australian parliaments.
    Among many things:
    1. He was one of a very few politicians who opposed the White Australia Policy, not that he thought it was racist or evil but because “Coolies” would be the cheapest way to develop North Australia
    2. He believed that snake bite victims die because of panic and the best treatment was a slap in the face and telling them to toughen up
    3. He proposed that the best treatment for diabetes was to eat a high sugar diet
    4. On the positive side he promoted the NSW Inebriates act (to indefinitely lock up drunks) and the NSWCremation Act

  6. Kirsty O’Connell the best Independent at present but she is a farmer from Aberdeen which is “sort of” near the empty quarter
    (She also gets the Donkey vote)

  7. One of the Singleton booths in and the ALP dropped 12.8 % – I would think the ALP has to win the seat in Singleton and Muswellbrook

    I find this difficult to believe as the gap between Labor and Nats appears to be narrowing

  8. As I noted in the post, don’t take any notice of my projections until there’s at least one result in on two-party preferred.

    Yep, they stand out like the proverbial atm!

  9. It looks like Kirsty O’Connell has put a dent in the Nat vote in her part of the electorate – will these votes exhaust?

  10. So Antony more or less calling it for the Nationals. No doubt Labor will come up with equally uninspiring candidates in the federal election and prove once and for all they’re a party of the past, not the future.

  11. The model has it at a 57% NAT TPP, while I think the nationals will win. I would be surprised if they win by this much of a majority.

  12. Isn’t it a bit early. There have been some significant swings to ALP (from a small base) in some small booths. I think we should see what Singleton and Muswellbrook produce

  13. Oh well, bye Jodi McKay. This awful state government getting a 6% swing to them in a byelection – Labor need a new leader, new shadow ministry, new media unit, total new strategy. Just waiting for Covid to blow over won’t cut it.

  14. William
    Are these figures correct – Nationals down 13% in Denman – hard to believe

    Checks out on my end — the NSWEC feed says the Nats have 224/883 (25.4%) when last time it was 338/897 (37.7%). So if there’s an error, it’s the NSWEC’s.

  15. Thanks William
    Have you ever been to Denman?
    Not a hive of socialist thought but there are some mine prospects nearby
    Kristy O’Connell has 10% so she maybe dragging the vote from the Nats in her North West part of the electorate

  16. Ah, thanks Watson – i apologise for doubting William’s wonderful feed

    I have presumed he is in some way connected to the old Hunter family of vignerons.

  17. And thanks to Watson Watch for solving the mystery. Unless the rail line that gets you from Sydney to Port Macquarie runs through it, I have never had the pleasure of visiting the electorate.

  18. Commiserations to Jody McKay – obv a very decent person but the times have worked against her . Whatever u have as a political leader u have to have luck and clearly she’s been unlucky in her time in leadership.

  19. I wonder if the result would have been different if u didn’t have OPV?

    There is a very high rate of exhaust so far

  20. O’Connell may well end up third, thanks to Green preferences – she’d get more of those than the Shooters or One Nation. I doubt she’d catch Labor though. Even under CPV, getting into a 2cp count off 10% isn’t realistic, although Melton (Vic 2018) and Mallee (federal 2019) came close. Under OPV, forget it.

    I’m amazed there’s five different candidates with 10% or better, and there’s still almost 15% for everyone else (Greens, other microparties and indies). Very splintered vote.

  21. Federal intervention in NSW surely has to be on the agenda now. Doing the same thing and hoping for a different result…

    Jody can do the party one last service and call for it on the way out the door ….

  22. If the ALP are going to sack the current LOTO over this who is the replacement? I thought that they’d run out of suitable candidates.

  23. Bucephalus says:
    Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 7:57 pm
    If the ALP are going to sack the current LOTO over this who is the replacement? I thought that they’d run out of suitable candidates.
    Chris Minns – but it may turn out to be the ultimate poisoned chalice.

  24. William, just checking – it looks like 66.7% of preferences are exhausted i.e. 2/3 of voters have exhausted their preferences.?

    Is this an unusually high rate?

  25. Clarence Town is the Nat’s home town, so it’s basically Denman in reverse. It could end up like Eden-Monaro last year – several different towns with outlier good results for whichever candidate happens to come from there.

    (Or also, bad results if the candidate from 2019 was from there but the new one isn’t. I’m guessing the 2019 Shooters candidate came from Scone? They’re particularly badly down there.)

  26. William, just checking – it looks like 66.7% of preferences are exhausted i.e. 2/3 of voters have exhausted their preferences.?

    Is this an unusually high rate?

    Ordinarily yes, but not where the Greens form a very low share of the total. The “swing” figures in my preference flows table tell you they’re about the same as last time.

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