The campaign for the New South Wales state election will officially kick off today with the issuing of the writs, which under the state’s fixed terms architecture occurs in unusually close proximity to election day itself. Nominations close on Wednesday, with ballot paper draws to follow on Thursday; early voting opens next Monday; and the big day itself is March 23, less than three weeks away. Do take note of the Poll Bludger election guide, to which a link can be found on the sidebar.
The Daily Telegraph gets the ball rolling today with two small sample polls, conducted last Thursday by YouGov Galaxy:
• An encouraging result for the Liberals in East Hills, where the Liberals got over the line by 0.6% in the 2011 landslide, then did very well to retain it by 0.4% in 2015. The poll result points to another squeaker, with Liberal and Labor tied on two-party preferred, from primary votes of Liberal 44% (44.2% in 2015), Labor 42% (42.1%), Greens 7% (6.6%) and Christian Democrats 4% (4.9%). The seat will be vacated with the retirement of its two-term Liberal member, Glenn Brookes. The sample for the East Hills poll was 508.
• A somewhat different story in Ryde, where the poll picks an 8.5% swing to Labor – although this still leaves Liberal member Victor Dominello with a 53-47 lead. The primary votes are Liberal 43% (53.7% in 2016), Labor 36% (28.9%), Greens 10% (11.5%) and Christian Democrats 5% (4.2%). In this case the sample was 534.
• The polls also inquired as to whether “the performance of the Scott Morrison-led federal government” made respondents more or less likely to vote Liberal. The result actually broke favourably for the Liberals in East Hills, at 35% for more likely, 31% for less likely and 28% for no influence, while the respective numbers in Ryde were 30%, 37% and 28%. A statewide YouGov Galaxy poll in late November had more likely at only 20%, less likely at 33%, and no influence at 35%.
• On the question of most important election issue, East Hills respondents came out for migration/population on 33%, well ahead of health, urban development and infrastructure projects, while urban development led in Ryde on 27%, with migrant/population way back on 18%. This either says something profound about the political geography of Sydney, with great portent for the federal as well as the state election, or something mundane about the vagaries of polls with error margins of 4%.
Also in today’s papers, Andrew Clennell of The Australian reports party polling has “picked up some seemingly random swings”, which have the Liberals hoping for a few gains from Labor to balance numerous anticipated losses elsewhere:
• The Liberals are said to be “marginally ahead” in The Entrance, which Labor holds on a margin of 0.4%, a fact reflected in regular visits of late from Gladys Berejiklian. Other Labor-held seats where the Liberals dare to dream reportedly include Granville (2.1%) and Port Stephens (4.7%).
• The Nationals are said to be concerned about Upper Hunter (2.2%) and a brace of North Coast seats: Tweed (3.2%), Lismore (0.2% in Nationals-versus-Labor terms) and even Coffs Harbour (14.3%). Coffs Harbour is being vacated with the retirement of long-serving member Andrew Fraser, and the polling reportedly points to a 10% swing. Conversely, the Nationals appear optimistic that the Greens will not repeat their coup in 2015 of winning Ballina, or of finishing second again in Lismore, where the threat comes from Labor.
• Another danger spot for the Nationals is the normally safe far western seat of Barwon, which is being vacated with the retirement of Kevin Humphries, and is reportedly under threat from Shooters Fishers and Farmers.
• The report also suggests the YouGov Galaxy result from East Hills might not be far off the mark, with the Liberals believing demographic change is working in their favour there. However, they are apparently pessimistic about Coogee and concerned about Penrith, Goulburn and Bega.