New South Wales by-elections live

Live coverage of the count for the New South Wales state by-elections in Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby.

Full display of results: Bega, Monaro, Strathfield and Willoughby.

Saturday, February 19

The Willoughby count has been updated with 9673 postals on the primary vote, and while these have leaned less heavily to the Liberals than postals did in 2019, they suggest Tim James’ lead is likely to widen from here rather than narrow. James has added 4357 primary votes, or 45.0% compared with 43.4% of all either votes, while Penn has gained 2651, or 27.4% compared with 32.2%.

End of Thursday

Counting has completed in Willoughby for what I expect will be all votes other than postals, leaving Tim James on 8365 (51.76%) to Larissa Penn’s 7797 (48.24%), with 2085 votes having exhausted. The total of 18,247 votes counted is put in the shade by the 25,071 postal votes that have now been received, which will be supplemented by a small number over the next week, counting of which will finally begin on Saturday.

End of Tuesday

I’m bumping this thread back to the top of the page because the NSWEC is conducting a new two-candidate preferred count in Willoughby between the actual leading candidates, Liberal Tim James and independent Larissa Penn, having conducted what proved to be a superfluous Liberal-versus-Greens count on the night. With results reported from 14 out of 24 booths, preferences are flowing heavily enough against the Liberals (10.2% to Liberal, 42.7% to independent and 47.1% exhausted) to perhaps make James nervous. The numbers are available at the NSWEC website – they are not being published to the media feed unfortunately, so my own results display doesn’t show them. James presently leads 51.4-48.6, which increases to 51.9-48.1 if the preference flow so far is projected across the yet-to-report booths.

That leaves, so far, 18,033 postal votes that have been received, which is more than the sum of the votes so far counted with many more still to arrive, none of which will be counted before the weekend. Ordinarily I would point to the fact that Gladys Berejiklian polled 66.5% of postals in 2019 compared with 57.6% of election day and pre-poll votes and deem the door still closed. But that was from a total of a mere 2269, in contrast to the present extraordinary circumstance where postal ballots were sent to every enrolled voter in the electorate. It may be that, as in the United States, that pool of postal voters, which is traditionally older and more conservative, is now dominated by those most concerned about COVID-19.

For more on the by-elections, below is a discussion between myself and Ben Raue which was recorded on Monday afternoon:

End of Saturday

Counting closed last night with quite a bit of the pre-poll vote still unreported – I’m unclear as to whether that will be finished off today or tomorrow. In the very unusual circumstances of these by-elections, there will then be very little to report for a full week, since counting of the unprecedentedly large number of postal votes will not start for another week, as was explained here. There may be a few other types of vote added to the count (absents, provisionals and telephone voting), but these will be few in number.

What we may see is a preference throw between the two leading candidates in Willoughby, Liberal candidate Tim James and independent Larissa Penn, to supersede the redundant count between the Liberals and the Greens that was conducted on the night. James leads by 43.5% to 32.2% on the primary vote, which as it stands might be dangerous for him under full preferential voting, but exhausted votes will result in a weaker flow to Penn. Besides, postal votes are likely to widen the gap, with Gladys Berejiklian having polled 66.5% on postals in 2019 compared with 57.6% on election day and pre-poll votes.

The headline-grabber is Labor’s win in Bega from a thumping swing of 14%, based on all election day votes and two out of six pre-poll booths. Michael Holland duly gains the seat formerly held for the Liberals by Andrew Constance, who will now run in Gilmore at the federal election. It was a better night for the Nationals, who have held Monaro against a 6.3% swing, with four of six pre-poll booths in together with the election day vote. This is a fairly creditable result, given they have held some of the 9.1% swing John Barilaro picked up at the 2019 election.

Labor appears to have held Strathfield with no substantial swing either way, leaving Jason Yat-Sen Li with a 4.4% lead based on all election day votes plus two out of three pre-poll booths. There’s presumably a good reason why no one is countenancing the possibility that the avalanche of outstanding postal votes might overturn this, but it’s very far from mathematically impossible. This would ordinarily be reckoned a soft result for an opposition party at a by-election: mitigating circumstances might include a particularly appealing Liberal candidate, the popularity of outgoing Labor member Jodi McKay, and the fact that independent Elizabeth Farrelly, who was recently a Labor council election candidate, polled nearly 10% and recommended an exhausted 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.

393 comments on “New South Wales by-elections live”

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  1. Getting to watch Antony Green tonight is the best part of my week.

    Hopefully a good result for Labor to send a message to Dom for his COVID mismanagement

  2. Not to mention the 203 voters in Willoughby who have the independent winning against the Lib….a 26.7% swing against the Liberals across the board would be most satisfactory.

  3. As always your results service looks excellent, William. Thank you for the addition of the new results map, I wish it success and hope to see it replicated in future elections

  4. It’s good to see those very early results showing big primary vote swings against the Liberals. Could be a very grim night ahead for Team Blue

  5. Thanks William….. I’m not overly excited by these tiny first returns, promising though they seem to people who don’t like the LNP. They’re fun while they last though.

  6. Dr Doolittlesays:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 4:16 pm
    Re Ven at 12.19 pm

    Postal votes dated 12 Feb will be accepted if they arrive up to 10 days afterwards. In previous NSW elections it has been 3 days (much shorter than federally) but for these by-elections it was extended.

    Thanks Dr. D for the info.

  7. Re Greensborough Growler at 6.27 pm

    When he’s confident the swing is large enough. In a federal election that is usually when between 10 to 20% of the vote is counted in a particular seat, depending on how close it is. See for Braddon at: (key points are around 28 mins in)

    The complication for these by-elections is the optional preferential system and the large number of postal votes, which won’t be counted until next Sat.

  8. Outsidersays:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 6:34 pm
    Ed Husic is very impressive. Good to see him on the ABC coverage tonight.

    I am very surprised that ABC is having live TV coverage for NSW by-elections.

  9. Outsider says:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    Ed Husic is very impressive. Good to see him on the ABC coverage tonight.

    IMO good choice to have Zimmerman on as well.

  10. The panel choice is good. Zimmerman is always a rational commentator and not one who talks over others or shouts.

    I’m not a Husic fan but so far no real clangers from him.

  11. Outsider_says:
    Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 6:34 pm
    “Ed Husic is very impressive. Good to see him on the ABC coverage tonight.”

    He generally is!

    Thoughtful and insightful.

  12. Postal votes have traditionally favoured the Coalition – sending them in from the south of France. Or Aspen, or from that round-the-world cruise.

    Is the pandemic effect going to change this tradition?

  13. If you were postal voting because you didn’t want to risk being exposed to Covid by in-person voting, surely Covid would be front and centre and with it, Dom’s and Gladys’ poor handling of the pandemic.

  14. Very difficult to know how postals will behave this time – especially if as Confessions suggests, they include a strong weighting towards COVID anxious voters.

  15. Taylormade says:
    Friday, February 11, 2022 at 8:20 am

    Don’t really follow NSW state politics but if PB is any guide I am predicting Labor 60/40 in all 4 contests.

    As labor has no candidate in Willoughby the chances are not good.

  16. Re Mr Mysterious at 6.58 pm

    No praying needed. It will be preying on Perrottet before long. Swing against Kotvojs in Eden is 6%, in a conservative strong hold. Swing to Labor in Moruya is 24%. Kotvojs cannot get back from here. She will get her hat-trick of defeats, once in 2019 (Eden Monaro) and twice at by-elections (E-M and now).

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