New South Wales by-elections minus one day

One day to go until Super Saturday, and the long and arduous counting process that is likely to follow.

Only one day to go before New South Wales’ quartet of state by-elections, for which the consensus remains that Willoughby, Monaro and Strathfield
will remain with Liberal, the Nationals and Labor respectively, but with Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that “Dominic Perrottet is bracing for Bega to fall to Labor”.

Antony Green at the ABC notes that while this will be far from the first electoral event since the onset of the pandemic, it is “the first held at a time when there is significant levels of infection in the population”. This has resulted in the novelty of all voters being sent postal ballot papers, a familiar enough procedure from local government elections but a first at parliamentary level. Since counting of the many postal votes will not begin until the election day rolls have been scanned as a check against multiple voting, it will take a full week counting of postal votes begins, which will assuredly leave results up in the air as of tomorrow night wherever they are not clear cut.

This site will offer live publications of results at booth level and attendant commentary from tomorrow evening. For now, here is thread for discussion of the big event, and New South Wales state politics in general.

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.

43 comments on “New South Wales by-elections minus one day”

  1. I think all four contests will likely be tight, particularly so in Bega.

    It will be disappointing if Labor can’t make inroads in Monaro. Much of the margin there is surely personal vote for Barilaro, and there is a history of Labor holding the seat whilst in Government.

  2. Hey Taylormade,

    That last comment would have to be the most ill informed, if not, provocative comment that you have made so far.

    The margin would have to be at least Labor 70/30.

  3. The snark level seems to be pretty high for the conservative voices. Must have been a bad week.

    I’m pretty sure the only change here is a chance for the ALP in Bega. Even that would take a 6% swing against the LNP, but given it’s a popular candidate like Constance leaving, that probably adds a couple of percentage points to any challenger. Willoughby there’s zero chance.

    But even that one win will be seen as bit concering for the LNP, because they would be hoping that they can win Eden Monaro from the ALP in the coming election to offset the expected losses in other states. With Bega being right in the middle of Eden Monaro, if the swing is significant, it would have to be a concern.

  4. Monaro might be interesting as it contains Queanbeyan which some times acts differently because its media is dominated by Canberra. But a huge swing is required.

    If Bega falls, there will be questions asked at both state and federal level about the logic of having ministers attempt to jump between levels of governments.

  5. Re Pi at 9.14 am

    Postal votes in Bega already above 15% by Thursday, and likely to be well over 20%, meaning the Bega result may not be clear until postal votes are counted, which begins on Sat 19 Feb, unless the swing to Labor on Sat and pre-poll votes is already large enough.

    The Libs have yet to pre-select a candidate in Eden-Monaro, having failed to find the high profile person they were reported as seeking nearly 3 months ago. The Libs did better in terms of a swing in Queanbeyan in the Eden-Monaro by-election in 2020. Gilmore will be closer than Eden-Monaro, and the northern parts of Bega from Moruya north are in Gilmore, so swings there will be worth watching.

  6. In Strathfield, Bridget Sakr running very hard on being a Strathfield local and continuing on Glady’s good work. No mention of Perrottet at all.

    Jason Yat-Sen Li on the other hand has Perrottet all over his electoral material.

    I was door knocked by Sakr and she seemed quite likeable. She’s probably quite a good candidate but seeing she needs a swing to her and has had no time to establish herself, I can’t see it happening for her. Especially with the liberal brand being on the nose with Morrison and Perrottet at the moment.

  7. The ALP candidate for Strathfield, Jason Yat-Sen Li is very impressive, having seen him on The Drum a few times. The ALP certainly need more people in the parliament with his legal, business and management credentials. But the Libs also have a high profile candidate in Bridget Sakr, and when I was in the electorate on Wednesday, they seemed to have a lot of boots on the ground-young Asian women handing out how-to-votes at Strathfield station and shops. So the Libs are making a real effort in this seat. Elizabeth Farrelly looks like she is running as an anti-Labor vanity project after failing to win ALP preselection. She might drain off a few votes. I’d certainly expect Labor to comfortably retain the seat, but I’m not sure it will be a massive swing.

    Strathfield overlaps the federal electorate of Reid, probably Labor’s best chance to gain a Federal seat in NSW.

  8. The Tally Room podcast has a reasonable preview of these by-elections. Stewart Jackson was surprisingly bullish about the ALP’s chances in both Bega and Monaro- though he also didn’t discount the realistic possibility of upsets in both Strathfield and Willoughby (from the independent).

  9. “Jason Yat-Sen Li on the other hand has Perrottet all over his electoral material.”

    As does the Daily Telegraph. A front page love letter in 72pt print. “Domicron” they cry. “Leader of leaders, we bow before thee…”
    OK, everything after leaders, I made up. Everything else is true.

  10. Looking at SportsBet -Status Quo expected


    Tim James (Liberal) 1.02
    Lynne Saville (Greens) 11.00
    Larissa Penn (Independent 21.00


    Fiona Kotvojs (Liberal) 1.65
    Michael Holland (Labor) 2.15


    Jason Yat-Sen Li (Labor) 1.40
    Bridget Sakr (Liberal) 2.75


    Nichole Overall (Nationals) 1.08
    Bryce Wilson (Labor) 6.50

  11. What’s that mean, shellbell? As long as she meets the nomination requirements for the Legislative Council she can stand – she doesn’t need to meet a threshold vote in Willoughby, and what would it be anyway??

    She seems to be a local from her flyer, so she might go ok, but I’ve heard from her more on Pollbludger than anywhere else. I think I saw a cor flute on High street North Willoughby this arvo – that will get her a couple of extra votes, for sure

  12. Re sprocket at 6.37 am

    The construction of those gambling odds is less transparent than the most unreliable of polls, i.e. no info about how many gamblers there are, let alone whether any of them are high rollers etc.

    A recording of a live interview with four candidates (Kotvojs, Holland, Haggar for Greens and the woman from the catch-all imitation Greens group) broadcast on ABC radio on Tues morning is at:

    Kotvojs mentioned Perrottet only once, in her final spiel. She stumbled with the question about Let It Rip (though it was not phrased that directly by the moderator) at 21 mins in, claiming things weren’t bad in Australia because they were worse elsewhere. Generally she presented herself parochially as a local, not as somebody connected with the NSW government, i.e. she did not run on their record at all.

    Holland generally did well, but he was not given by the moderator a chance to comment on Let It Rip, and did not come back to it. Much will depend on how many electors have formed their own view of it.

    Pre-poll voting in Bega is around 30%, just below the level in 2019. Postal votes received so far are over 20%, which will rise to perhaps around 30%, leaving maybe 40% of voters voting tomorrow.

    The ABC moderator was remiss in not asking the Greens candidate (who was articulate and forceful) and the imitation Green whether they recommend voters using the preferential system to influence which of Labor and Liberal might win. In 2019 over 30% of Greens votes exhausted. That equated to 3% of formal votes. If repeated that could be a key factor in Kotvojs winning, if she does, although it is likely that few of the gamblers are aware of such finer details.

    Unless there is a clear trend early on, Antony Green may wait for the counting of pre-polls before he suggests who will win. If it is close, then what happens with the 30% or so of postals will be decisive.

  13. “Only one day to go before New South Wales’ quartet of state by-elections, for which the consensus remains that Willoughby, Monaro and Strathfield
    will remain with Liberal, the Nationals and Labor respectively, but with Alexandra Smith of the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that “Dominic Perrottet is bracing for Bega to fall to Labor”.”…

    If the result feared by Perrottet is confirmed on election night, then Scomocchio will start shivering, as the possibility of a real swing of NSW away from the Coalition also at the federal level (as the opinion polls suggest) would be closer to become a reality. A net loss of seats for the federal Coalition in NSW would lead to a very significant defeat nationally.

    On the other hand, it’s possible that these by-elections may deliver a status quo (as I suspect): everybody retaining their own seat.

  14. NFI – status quo is defintely the safe option.

    I will say, despite the comments about Labor running kinda-dead in Monaro, I’ve defintiely seen an uptick in Labor activity over the last 2-3 weeks.

  15. What is the worst result for the lnp..lose Monaro and Bega with a 10% swing in strathfield which is roughly half of Reid. NOW I don’t know if it will all happen.. may be only Bega falls maybe status quo with big swings..everywhere? I think on balance of probability the coalition will be lucky not to lose 1 seat

  16. Mick:

    I mean, the worst result for the Coalition would be if they lose in every seat. Can you imagine the shitstorm if that happened!?

    It seems pretty unlikely – at least as far as I can gather through my distant observations from another state – especially since the alternatives in Willoughby apparently don’t have spectacular prospects, but it’s not totally unforeseeable either. If the anger at how Dom and Scomo have managed Covid is as still as fierce as some have been suggesting, well, who knows what could happen?

    If they manage to avoid any real swings to them, or get a swing to them, I’d class that as a win for the Coalition. If they easily hold all their seats and either win or come close to winning Strathfield, then I’d be getting pretty bloody worried about Labor’s chances federally in NSW.

  17. Data below from. Antony Green. Given the very high rates of pre-poll + postal voting, that counting of postal votes won’t start until 19 Feb, and that experience shows that early votes can follow a different pattern than votes cast on the day, it could be a while till we know what’s going on:

    “The rates of pre-poll and postal voting by Friday 11 February on the completion of pre-poll voting:
    Bega – 29.4% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 21.3% returned a postal vote
    Monaro – 23.1% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 15.3% returned a postal vote
    Strathfield – 16.3% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 26.4% returned a postal vote
    Willoughby – 9.6% of enrolled voters have cast a pre-poll and 28.1% returned a postal vote”

  18. A week or so ago, I saw a news story about Jason Yatsen Li. During the Republic debate in the 1990s, he had posted a sexist remark about Jodi Meares on social media.

    I really hope the ALP machine knew about this and it doesn’t become the sort of stuff up that costs a seat.

    PS Love the use of a monochrome image of Domicron!

  19. Echt:

    The term didn’t exist then, but what we now call social media certainly did in a primitive form in the 90s, mostly in the form of message boards and chat rooms.

  20. Pretty much the status quo IMO, with really only Bega the best chance for an upset.
    The labor candidate there seems quite impressive, particularly up against Mrs Mangel.
    Strathfield will be interesting too to a point, although Jason is an impressive guy and should increase his margin.
    The Willoughby electorate will hold their noses and vote for the hard right loon, although his margin will naturally be reduced due to the Gladys factor.
    So I’m calling it here – Bega for the ALP.

  21. ABC story seems to think Bega will go and swings of 10% in some places.
    NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is putting on a brave face — he might need it later today

  22. Monaro may surprise as well, we will see. Bruz pork barrelled heavily and saved the sell off the electricity there. Hewas personally popular probably for that reason contributing to a blow out in 2019. My Queanbeyan rellies have already postal voted – for Bryce Wilson. They are ex-business owning retirees FWIW.

  23. 50% votes are already cast in Bega as pre & postal votes.
    Strathfield is almost 43%
    Other 2 are in their mid 30s

    Query: Are postal votes dated election day accepted till the date those votes are counted (i.e. 19 Feb) or even after that?

  24. Very much hoping to see Bryce Wilson crack a 12% swing in Monaro.
    Lots of peeps in Wagga Wagga and The Rock know what a great bloke he is.

  25. Because the two state seats of Monaro and Bega are basically within the boundary of the federal seat of Eden-Monaro, I think the 2020 federal by-election result could inform us of what is going to happen tonight.

    There is a major disconnect between the 2019 state election results for Bega and Monaro and the results of the federal by-election in Eden-Monaro. Take a look at the polling booth 2PP results for the federal by-election. Both John Barilaro and Andrew Constance were on the scene in 2020 but their strong personal votes 15 months earlier did not translate to the federal by-election that Labor won but only just.

    If Labor can comfortably win most if not all the Queanbeyan polling booths [as it did at the 2020 by-election], reverse the vote in Bungandore where there is a highly contentious proposal to build a high school on treasured parkland, and generally drag down the Nationals vote well below 50%, Labor could come very close to winning with the preferences of all the other candidates likely to favour the ALP. There is no shooters party candidate in the Monaro by-election and the Left leaning candidates [Labor and Green] are together on the ballot paper, making preference selection for Green voters fairly straightforward. John Barilaro’s personal vote [particularly in Queanbeyan] is likely to dissipate. To a lesser extent, the same conclusion could be drawn in Bega where I think Labor will win comfortably.

    I draw these conclusions because Dominic Perrottet and Scott Morrison are joined at the hip. Federal and State issues around the pandemic are blurred and people are worried. The two leaders may not like each other but they both favour small government, less intervention in anything, have a libertarian approach to government and are hard right wing. At present, these attributes are not welcome by the NSW electorate. Indeed, when you observe Perrottet, he looks uncomfortable when campaigning and seems to be staring into the abyss. Importantly, he’s not popular at all, with no party literature featuring his photo.

    Of course, I could be wrong, but there seems to be a vibe about this.

  26. John Anderson says:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    There is a major disconnect between the 2019 state election results for Bega and Monaro and the results of the federal by-election in Eden-Monaro. Take a look at the polling booth 2PP results for the federal by-election. Both John Barilaro and Andrew Constance were on the scene in 2020 but their strong personal votes 15 months earlier did not translate to the federal by-election that Labor won but only just.
    Barilaro was a loose cannon in that election.

  27. The contentious high school proposal on central parkland in Bungendore (Barilaro was deep in it) was reversed by the incoming local council very recently. How this plays out in today’s election is not clear as the council is ‘non-party’ and Bruz has fled. Certainly Bungendore is home to many ex-Canberrans but most seem to be commuting tradies.

  28. Re John Anderson at 4.23 pm

    See the last chart (preference flow by candidate) above the ballot paper order at Antony Green’s link:

    Because NSW has optional preferential you cannot simply translate federal (full preferential) figures, even apart from contextual differences.

    E.g. in 2019 in Bega the Greens got 10% but 30% of those votes (= 3% overall) exhausted, contributing to Constance’s margin being bigger than if a full preferential voting system was used.

    Overall 20% of the vote in 2019 went to minor candidates, and nearly 45% of that exhausted.

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