Saturday, March 23, 2019

2019 NSW Election Live Comments


Coalition has won the election - probably with a small majority 

Apparent wins Coalition 45 Labor 35 Green 3 Ind 3 SF+F 3, 4 in doubt
(Apparent wins are not necessarily all confirmed)

Apparent seat changes:

Barwon (Nat to SF+F) - but need to wait for Broken Hill booths
Murray (Nat to SF+F)
Coogee (Liberal to Labor)

In serious doubt:

Lismore (Nat vs Green vs ALP - long postcount ahead)
Dubbo (Nat vs IND - close)

In some doubt:

East Hills (Liberal leading Labor)
Upper Hunter (Liberal leading Labor)

Assumed won but at low doubt levels: 
Wollondilly (Liberal vs IND - no 2CP count available)
Penrith (Liberal leading Labor)

Commentary appears below the double line with latest comments scrolling to the top - refresh frequently for new comments once count starts.  Comment clearance during commentary will be slow and comments may not be replied to until very late.

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11:40 Out for a walk for a bit - will come back and start writing some more stuff about midnight.

10:50 More on Legislative Council - the 13% counted as "Others" will apparently not be unrolled until Wednesday.  This includes non-blank informals, votes for the remaining 13 parties not counted on the night, and below the lines.  There may be as much as 10% of the vote for the remaining 13 parties combined, including Keep Sydney Open, Liberal Democrats etc, so there could be a winning ticket in this pile somewhere!

And more on Lismore - Janelle Saffin has moved into second on primaries, but it's not clear she will stay there.  Based on 2015 in this seat the Nationals will be praying that she doesn't, because Greens preferences will flow more strongly to her than hers will to them.   A further complication is the Animal Justice Party preferences, which may well help the Greens.

10:25 Legislative Council - people have been quoting some high figures for One Nation and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, but these were from unrepresentative rural booths that favoured both parties.  One Nation are now just below 6% and the Shooters on 5.18%, so currently each is on for one seat with One Nation some chance of two.  Even off half their current vote they would still win, so I'm confident each has one seat.  We still don't know what the breakdown of other parties looks like and who else might be in the mix.

Ben Raue has mentioned that Wollondilly is unclear between the Liberals and the independent Judy Hannan.  Hannan is clearly second and currently needs a gain rate of about .44 votes/preference to win.  On the surface this isn't impossible (similar rates were seen in Ballina last election when the Greens won for example) but it's likely to blow out once prepolls and postals are added, as indies tend to do badly on those.  We should keep an eye on this seat.  In Coffs Harbour there's also an Independent who should finish second but the gap there is in my view too great.

9:40 Labor's Janelle Saffin is catching the Greens in Lismore, so this is a very exciting three-cornered contest (again!)

9:15 The projection giveth and taketh away - Labor just jumped ahead further in Coogee (which has been given away) but fell behind in East Hills.

8:57 Lismore - Antony has indicated problems with the ABC's modelling.  Currently the Greens would win based on the last-election preference flow.  We need to see if the primary vote gap (currently 7.7%) holds near where it is.

8:25 Cabramatta is under control for Labor so far against the ex-Liberal independent Dai Le.

8:05 Swing to Greens in Balmain so far.  It is looking like all the current crossbenchers will be re-elected.

8:01 Labor thinks the Greens will retain Ballina - this looks very likely on current figures which have them well ahead.

Labor are failing to win Goulburn - if they can't win that, that isn't very good for them.

7:55 It's a bit hard to post much detail on some of the seats because the ABC is not booth-matching.  Dubbo is tightening to about a 12% primary gap from National to independent, if it comes down to 7-8% the independent (Mathew Dickerson) will be more of a threat.

7:50 Swings being reported to Liberals in Oatley, which I considered off the table to Labor off the Daley gaffe.  Kogarah is still shaky; Labor have claimed Strathfield.

7:47 Liberal lead rising towards the too-hard level in Wollondilly.

7:41 Nationals are 8% behind the Shooters in Murray and look to be losing by more than that on preferences.  This is going to take a lot to bring back.

7:32 Let's check all the non-classic seats I haven't checked yet:
Dubbo - Nats 20% ahead of an independent, that would need to close up a lot given OPV.
North Shore - Swing 8% to Felicity Wilson in first booth counted, so I expect her to retain.
Wollondilly - Liberals currently lead by 13% from independent Judy Hannan but are a long way short of 50% with a very complex count.  PHON and Shooters have 10% and Labor have 15% so if the preferences of the minors help Hannan she might win. Haven't looked at HTV cards for the seat yet.

Labor has claimed to have won Port Stephens, a seat targeted by the Liberals.

7:30 There is a suggestion that the early Kogarah booth is unrepresentative (high Chinese population even by seat standards.)

7:22 Calling Lake Macquarie for Greg Piper.  Joe McGirr just moved into the primary lead in Wagga Wagga so is looking OK there at this stage.

7:17 Antony Green calls Newtown for Jenny Leong off 2.3% of the count and I agree.  So the Greens will be in the parliament.

7:14 Barwon may become three-cornered between Labor, SF+F and the leading Nationals once the Broken Hill booths come in there.  Liberals claiming a swing to them in Terrigal and hoping to pick up The Entrance.  However early Labor booth figures don't agree on the latter.

7:12 The Nats' Kevin Anderson looks to have Tamworth under control with 59% with over 1000 counted, so I think we can take that one off the crossbench menu.

7:10 Labor saying they are close to the mark in Seven Hills, but not in Heathcote.

7:05 Nick Casmirri reports an error in the Ballina Hospital booth where figures appear switched between the Nationals and Sustainable Australia.

7:03 First Kogarah booth in (where Labor has issues caused by Michael Daley's Asians-with-PhDs pre-gaffe) has a 6.2% swing against Labor and a 10% swing to the Liberal candidate.  If continued across the electorate this would be trouble for Labor but we need to see more booths.

6:57 Antony Green has called Orange for incumbent Phil Donato (SF+F) and I agree.

6:52 5% primary vote swing against Nationals in Clarence in the first booth, which I had my eye on in case of possible regional trashings of the Nationals vote.  Nothing to see there yet.

6:49 The swings on the ABC site don't seem to be booth-matched at this stage; they just seem to be matched against the overall result.  That's a nuisance.

6:46 Nats doing better in Murray now with the Euston booth in where their primary and the Shooters primary are down by similar amounts, and they have taken the primary lead.  Time to look at other seats til this one settles down.

6:41 The figures at the second Murray booth are so extreme that I can only suspect an error in the Bunnaloo booth which has a supposed 47% swing against the Nationals.

6:33 Hello hello, trouble for the Nationals in the first booth in Murray with a swing worth about 8% compared to the by-election which they won with only a 3.3% margin!  Perhaps small booths will swing more.

6:25 A few figures coming in from small booths - Labor off to a champagne start in Lismore with 8 of the 12 votes counted!

6:17 Dinner break finished; here we go! No figures yet.

5:57 Virtual Tally Room (NSW) page is up:

5:34 The following issues were cited by respondents as influencing their vote (HT: Bevan Shields)

Heath and hospitals: 43%
Education: 35%
Roads and congestion: 23%
Rail: 23%
Economy: 20%
Power prices: 18%
Federal factors: 15%
Stadiums: 12%

We've barely heard a peep about health in this election; that said I think voters are prone to include it as important whether they are following the issue or not.

5:24 pm: The Galaxy exit poll with a 50-50 result is confined to marginals. It has a 2.7% swing to Labor in city marginals, a 3.5% swing in non-city marginals.  So it does not show a tightening compared to the Newspoll as there is no statewide figure (but the average marginals swing is the same as Newspoll).  Hence the interpretation of it as pointing to a Coalition minority, though it's also consistent with a small Coalition majority.  We'll see ...

5:21 pm: The Galaxy exit poll is 50-50.  Could be in for a long night ... one could not rule out a Labor minority government on this 2PP if accurate.

5:13 pm: Reports the Galaxy exit poll points to a Coalition minority, have not seen figures yet.

5:03 pm: There is a bizarre irregularity in Strathfield where votes have been quarantined, apparently after a paid campaign volunteer started ticking off voters and handing out votes as if they were a polling official.  Affected votes have been quarantined with their status to be determined.  Comments on Poll Bludger suggest around 300 votes involved and that there is a "very funny" story.

5:00 pm Galaxy exit poll incoming soon on Nine.

4:50 pm Something novel - Greenpeace have commissioned a Lonergan exit seat poll of Coogee, a Liberal inner-city marginal said to be unusually susceptible to climate change concerns, with a huge sample size (1481).  This has Labor winning massively, off primaries of 41 to 31 for Liberals. Coogee had a huge Green vote last election so this would pan out to about 58-42, which would be an 11% swing.  Huge if true - but is it true? Can it be true?  We'll find out soon enough ...

Intro (3 pm)

Welcome to my live comments on the NSW state election.  As usual my comments will aim to complement, and perhaps now and then correct, the ABC's coverage which many readers will be watching, and especially to keep an eye on a number of seats of interest (mostly of the non-classic variety).   Comments will start from 6 pm, or earlier if there is exit polling.

Regarding election night, it's going to be messy.  William Bowe has noted that the NSWEC does not expect to have full prepoll counts even to primary level tonight.  Also, in following days the NSWEC is likely (as in the past) to only continue 2CP counts for close seats, counting the rest at primary level only until the full entry of ballot papers into computers followed by the "button press".  More detail on that as counts unfold through the following weeks.  I will select various seats to follow in the post-counting threads which will be unrolled either very late tonight or tomorrow.  Clearly classic-2PP seats (Coalition vs Labor) will probably be covered on a single thread, with other threads for interesting seats.

I'll be especially keeping an early eye on non-classic contests in crossbench-held Orange and Wagga and Coalition-held Barwon, Dubbo, Murray, Tamworth, North Shore and Wollondilly, and just for variety Labor-held Cabramatta.  The three-cornered contests in Ballina and Lismore are likely to be interesting again but I expect them to take time to stabilise.

There are bound to be seats where the NSWEC will select the wrong two candidates for the final 2CP.  Fortunately the ABC has recently improved its performance in noting when its projections in these cases are estimates and not real votes, but this is always something to be cautious of.

Prepoll voting has increased significantly at this election, from about 642,000 in 2015 to "more than one million".  Prepolls will be over 20% of the total, so more seats than usual are likely to finish tonight still up in the air.  Also, the NSWEC has said it won't release individual electorate prepoll figures immediately.  Almost 83,000 postals have already been received (the 2015 tally was around 204,000; there will be many more to come) and the embattled iVote system has received over 207,000 votes but will receive more today (in 2015 it reached almost 284,000.)

Regarding the Legislative Council it appears the NSWEC will be producing a primitive partial count confined to above-the-line votes for " the Coalition, Labor, the Greens, Shooters, the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice and One Nation", with the rest lumped as others.  This is unsatisfactory. The count will be incomplete and likely to be skewed anyway so don't expect too much understanding of the last few seats in the Legislative Council tonight.  I will be focusing on the Lower House for most of the evening.

My summaries of late polling matters can be seen at NSW: Final Day Roundup.  Despite the perception of a horror final week for Labor, capped by a movement to the Coalition in the final Newspoll, matters remain very uncertain.  Firstly there is a serious shortage of statewide polling data: only six statewide polls by three different pollsters have been seen in the past three months, compared to 22 polls by seven different pollsters in 2015.  There has been no poll by anyone except YouGov Galaxy (which also administers Newspoll) since a ReachTEL over two weeks ago!  If the final Newspoll's reading of the primary votes is correct, then the Coalition is very likely to win, but majority status is touch and go.  However both the Coalition hanging on in majority with only a few seat losses, and Labor forming minority government are well within the range of normal polling errors (as seen in YGG's final polls in SA, WA and on the 2PP in Queensland) - to say nothing of abnormal ones such as in Victoria.  A Labor majority government would be a big surprise, but a Coalition majority, a Coalition minority and a Labor minority are all well and truly on the table.

If you're looking for the case that Labor will win, Peter Brent's early case didn't present all that much evidence (beyond that pendulums can't be trusted, which is certainly the case at this election because of the weird distribution of Coalition seats).   But there is also a more thorough piece by Tim Colebatch which points out the historical factors against the Coalition, including the strong record of Labor at state elections generally in the past 38 years - a record that exists despite the roughly equal share of federal power (and hence federal drag impacts) in this time.  I'd note that while Newspoll had Labor too low in Victoria and WA, it also had the Coalition too low in SA and on the 2PP in Queensland, and also that while no "conservative" state government has won a third term since 1980, Joh's Nationals in Queensland won an eleventh term in 1986.  Concerning betting odds, Colebatch suggests that they have a house effect in favour of the Coalition and incumbent MPs. While the former isn't always the case (eg a Liberal majority in Tasmania was at $15 and happened by a margin of 6%), as a general principle I can think of easily more than enough cases to suspect that he is right.


  1. If the prepolls are NOT being counted in any meaningful sense tonight, does this mean that the "on the night" figures are probably more pro-Labor than the final result? (Prepolls seem to increasingly favour Coalition these days).

    1. Some prepolls will be counted late tonight. It is possible the edge to Coalition in prepolls will be reduced or annulled by Labor having a bad final week.

  2. What do you think this means at a Federal level? Does NSW tend to be good at separating state/federal issues or should there be a strong correlation between this state election and possible federal outcomes?

    1. I think the NSW Liberal government is very different to the federal one so I would at this stage read nothing much into it.

  3. Prepoll tends to be similar to election day...lots of time a sitting MP can organise better but this varies from seat to seat no fixed rules would be interested to look at this post election