Sunday night. Antony Green is now leaving only the faintest hint of wriggle room, in saying “scrutineer figures suggest McGirr is now certain to win”. Today we have had 1099 postal votes, 441 “enrolment” votes (which I take to be those who availed themselves of enrolment on election day, as is allowed in New South Wales) and 10 absent votes (which I don’t understand). The top three candidates are fairly evenly placed on primary votes, so preferences from the other will determine which of the three is excluded. Clearly those scrutineers reports suggest it won’t be Joe McGirr, confirming the irrelevance of the Liberal-versus-Labor preference count that the NSWEC pulled last night, which showed Labor would have narrowly won. It’s also clear that McGirr stands to receive non-trivial amounts of preferences from either Labor or Liberal, whichever one it is that drops out.
10.51pm. That long awaited Wagga Wagga town pre-poll booth decides it for McGirr, who outpolled both major parties there with 3202 (26.9%) to the Liberals’ 3029 (26.0%) and Labor’s 2737 (23.0%). This means the notional two-party count is surely now irrelevant, but for what it’s worth, the iVotes cut the Labor lead from 2.3% to 1.3%.
10.33pm. Twelve thousand pre-polls take a while to count it seems. My best estimate is that they will push Labor into the lead on the primary vote, at around 25.5%, with McGirr on 24.7% and the Liberals on 23.8%. After that there won’t be much left: at most 1500 postals and 500 bits and pieces. So any turn-up in late counting can only come from the enormous hit of Wagga Wagga town pre-polls that I presume will be through this evening.
9.42pm. Now we have 2666 iVotes, of which McGirr has 23.5%, which he can live with. The Liberals did relatively well, getting 30%, while Labor only got 17.7%. So they’re now back ahead of Labor on the primary vote, though not two-party.
9.33pm. Antony Green says there will be fully 12,000 votes to come in later tonight from the Wagga Wagga town pre-poll. That’s enough to turn up a significant surprise, in whichever direction.
9.32pm. On the two-party count, the swing to Labor in the Tumut pre-poll was 11.7%, which is lower than their 15.0% on the polling booth votes. The Liberal margin is 12.9%, so they would need to do better than that on the remainder of late counting, if indeed it did come down to Labor versus Liberal.
9.20pm. McGirr got 16.7% of the polling booth vote in Tumut, and now 13.6% on pre-poll. He would need to do more than 3% worse on late counting compared with ordinary votes to lose.
9.18pm. However, Antony notes these votes were from Tumut, and McGirr is stronger in Wagga Wagga, which should come through with over 8000 pre-polls votes later this evening.
9.12pm. Now we have 2748 pre-polls counted, and they have gone remarkably badly for Joe McGirr, who only got 13.6% of them.
9.06pm. All booths now in on the primary vote.
8.52pm. Labor now well ahead on two-party, by a little over 52-48. So if there’s any hypothetical threat to McGirr, and it’s a big if, it’s increasingly looking like it will be from Labor.
8.36pm. So here’s the situation. If Joe McGirr makes the final count, he will win easily. If he doesn’t though, it will be lineball between Liberal and Labor. McGirr will presumably manage, but we should have a huge amount of pre-polls come in later this evening, with postals to come through over the coming week. If these come in below 20% for him, it could yet get interesting.
8.34pm. Now Labor are ahead on two-party preferred. Ironically, the extent of the Liberal collapse may end up costing Labor the seat.
8.29pm. Nothing in it on the notional two-party Liberal-versus-Liberal count, with seven booths left to report.
8.24pm. Only one booth left to report.
8.20pm. This was over half an hour ago now, but Antony Green was being cautious in his assessment due to the outside possibility that Joe McGirr will tank on postals and pre-polls, in which case the notional two-party count would no longer be theoretical. The Liberals currently hold a 51-49 lead over Labor here on the raw vote, and my projection has it lineball.
8.04pm. Three booths still to come now. For what little it’s worth, the Liberals have edged to a 52-48 lead on the two-party count.
7.59pm. Only four booths left to go on the primary vote, and it’s increasingly looking like the Liberals will finish third.
7.51pm. Now up to 23 booths out of 29 and the Liberals have definitively fallen behind Labor. The notional Liberal-versus-Labor two-party shows a 13% swing against the Liberals, suggesting this would come right down to the wire if it ended up being a Liberal-versus-Labor contest.
7.41pm. There’s very little in it between Liberal, Labor and McGirr on the primary vote, but presumably McGirr will get a strong flow of minor party and independent preferences.
7.37pm. Now up to 21 booths out of 29 and it’s no longer clear the Liberals will even finish second. Labor is still down on the primary vote, but not by as much as earlier in the count.
7.32pm. McGirr back in front on the primary vote; I’m projecting a tie.
7.30pm. Eighteen booths out of 29 have now reported, and the Liberals are back in front on the primary vote, not that that will save them.
7.27pm. Two more booths in and the situation keeps getting worse for the Liberals. McGirr now leads on both the raw and projected primary vote.
7.21pm. Big surge to Joe McGirr from the last four booths. His primary vote is now only a fraction below the Liberals, both on raw and projected terms, in which case game over. Not much chance of Labor finishing second by the looks.
7.13pm. A tenth booth now, not sure from where, but it has weakened the Liberals and strengthened McGirr. Projected Liberal primary vote back below 30%.
7.10pm. Nine booths in now out of 29, and the Liberals continue to strengthen. Joe McGirr remains in the low twenties and Labor in the high teens. A notional Liberal-versus-Labor count is being conducted, but it probably won’t be much use, as the question seems to be whether McGirr will get enough preferences to overhaul the Liberals.
7.03pm. Seven booths in now, and the results are looking a bit better for the Liberals. I now have their vote down 22.0%, where before it was more like 30%. This means I’m projecting them to finish north of 30% on the primary vote. Joe McGirr is on 24.0% though, and I presume he would get enough preferences if that was how it panned out.
6.49pm. Uranquinty Public booth maintains the earlier trend.
6.47pm. So far Labor are down on the primary vote, so early as the indications are, they are good for Joe McGirr.
6.45pm. Yerong Creek booth now in as well, and it looks much like the first. The raw Liberal primary vote is about 33%, but these booths were about 10% above the Liberal norm in 2015.
6.38pm. One small booth in — Talbingo Public — has, by my reckoning, the Liberal vote dropping by other half. A tiny number of votes of course, but the results look rather a lot like what the polls were showing. Over the fold you will find a primary votes table with booth-matched swings and projections. I hope against hope it doesn’t have too many bugs.
6pm. Polling has closed for the Wagga Wagga by-election. Live commentary to follow.