Saturday, May 22, 2021

Upper Hunter By-Election Live And Post-Count

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UPPER HUNTER (National, 2.6%)
By-election caused by resignation of Michael Johnsen
2019 primary votes Nat 34.0 Labor 28.6 SFF 22.0 Greens 4.8 LDP 4.4 SA 2.2 AJP 2 CDP 1.9  

Seat called win to Nationals at 8:24 pm Saturday (final swing to Nats 3.26%)

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Saturday: Final 2PP 55.82 to Nationals (+3.26)

Monday: 2PP now at 55.7 after a strong performance for the Nats on initial postals more than cancelled out a comparatively weak performance on iVotes.  

Sunday 8:00 Good performances in the other prepolls have the Nats up to 55.4 now.  Still no sign of the iVotes.  

Sunday 2:20 Muswellbrook prepoll has come in dropping the live 2PP to 54.5.

Sunday 1:10 The 2PP in the live count is now sitting at 56.8.  Labor has stopped the rot in a couple of prepolls today and the 2PP will come down when Muswellbrook prepoll is added.  My projection has dropped to 54.6 but I believe that's on the low side.   Still no sign of the iVotes but I believe they're coming today.  

9:06 Not much more counting yet (has anybody seen the iVotes?) Anyway we have a c. 3% 2PP swing to a 10-year old incumbent government that is also "federally dragged" after its own MP resigned in disgrace.  That's not just COVID.  

It is possible it says something about the previous member.  When George Souris retired after 27 years in 2015 there was a 20.8% swing to Labor, in the context of an election with an overall 10% swing.  Souris would have taken a huge personal vote, but even so, it is worth bearing in mind that this seat had not been won by Labor since 1910.  However, the tightening in this seat was driven by increased coal mining bringing in a Labor-voting demographic, and this renders the history of the seat pretty irrelevant.  

8:33 And a very weak preference performance for Labor in the Qirindi prepoll has blown it even further open, now to 55.6.  

8:24 I still have 54.1% projected.  It has been obvious for some time that Dave Layzell is going to win; interest now turns to whether he can do so with a 2PP swing in his favour, which he is currently on course to do.  If so it will be the first case of a 2PP swing to a NSW government in a by-election that I can find since Sutherland, 1997.  

8:10 Quirindi prepoll is in with about a 7% swing against both majors.  

8:04 I now have 54.3.  My projection had been tracking Antony Green's but has now diverged from it.

7:39 53.4 now.  Note that I'm assuming Labor makes a constant preference gain rate, whereas most likely Labor's gain rate will be better in booths that are bad for the Nats.  

7:33 Nats must have had a bad booth as it dropped to 53.0

7:30 My projection is hovering around 54.3 to National.  

7:23 Swing only 1.2% against the Nats now, with 19% counted.  

7:20 More booths in and the swing against Nats has fallen to 1.6% and that against Labor is up to 6.4%.  It is looking like the Nationals are winning.   

7:18 With seven booths in Labor is not hitting the 10% gain rate in any of them and went backwards in one.  Again these are all very small booths.  

7:10 Currently Labor will need a gain rate of about 10% (0.1 votes gain per vote for other parties) to catch up.  They're at 8% and 5% in the first two booths, but those are tiny samples!

7:05 First 2PP booths in. Wallabadah Public - 20 prefs to Labor, 13 Nats, 54 exhaust.  Kirkton 14, 21, 111.  So Labor closing on preferences in these little booths so far; I'll soon check if this shows any sign of being enough.  

6:58 Still no 2PP results.  Swings now 4.6% and 3.5%, which indicates the 2PP contest will at least be reasonably close.  

6:54 The swing against Nats has come up to 4.7 while that against Labor has come down to 4.4.  In 2019 preferences were basically a wash so a projected lead for the Nationals is still good news, but they are not running away with it yet.  

6:46 11 booths in now and O'Connell has dropped back a bit to 11%.  The swing against Shooters has come down to 10% but this still looks very much like a Nationals vs Labor contest and while the swing against Nats is smaller than that against Labor, it will take a major preference shift to threaten them.  

6:41 Coming thick and fast, eight booths in and the primary vote swing is down to 2.9% against Nats and 5.7% against Labor.  At this early stage there is no sign that anyone else gets into the top two and nothing yet that would frighten the Nationals but we need to see some booth preference flows.  

6:38 Five booths in now and the primary vote swing is down to 3.7% against Nats and 6.3% against Labor.  Interestingly O'Connell is still going well, on 14.3%.  The Shooters and One Nation are splitting votes between them with the Shooters having a 10.8% swing against so far.  

6:29 And were faster than they said, we have two booths in (Moonan Flat Hall and Mt Pleasant) and the primary vote swing so far is 10% against Nats and 6.4% against Labor, which is a rather YouGov-y start to proceedings.  Early booths will show idiosyncratic swings and especially there's a high O'Connell vote in the Moonan booth.

6:15 NSWEC expects to post results from 7 pm.

5:55 I'm not sure how quickly we'll get the c. 2000 iVotes once polling closes but it's worth noting that in 2019 there were 1673 formal iVotes and they skewed against the Nationals by 2.8%, against the ALP by 4.6%, and to Greens, LDP and various minor parties (but were roughly representative for Shooters).

Intro 5:30.

There is a lot of interest in today's Upper Hunter by-election in NSW and I thought I'd post some live comments just for anyone interested - mainly in case anyone wants a second or third or even fourth opinion to those provided elsewhere!  Especially keep an eye on the Poll Bludger live results facility which should be excellent at watching for booth swings etc.  This post will follow the seat at least until the winner is clear.  Once numbers start coming in after polls close at 6 pm, refresh every 15 mins or so for recent comments.  Comments will scroll to the top.  

This by-election is especially important for various sides of politics.  The NSW government is polling very well but has fallen into minority, and while it won't get out of it tonight a win here would give it a path back if it can also secure a by-election in Kiama (12.0%) and win that as well.  A loss would make governing messier.  On the Labor side, Jodi McKay's leadership is widely considered to be terminal unless Labor wins tonight.  The contest has added interest for federal Labor because there have been claims (for which I think all the polling evidence has come from Redbridge) that it is in trouble in this area and could lose seats at the federal election.  

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers polled 22% in 2019 and this seems like a seat that could join their collection in a by-election environment.  The problem for third-party challengers, indeed for Labor as well, is that it is optional preferential voting and there may well be too many challengers.  Many are not even cross-preferencing so there will be a lot of exhaust.  Added interest here comes from Malcolm Turnbull endorsing independent Kirsty O'Connell, whose how to vote card preferences a few other independents then stops.  Amid all the larger and more local factors at play in this by-election, the  circumstances of the incumbent's resignation have been largely forgotten.

NSW by-elections recently have a history of vicious swings against governments even when held between elections in which not very much happens, and governments normally cop a whacking in their own vacant seats, so by normal standards this seat would be indefensible against either Labor or the Shooters.  But with the government travelling strongly these are not normal times and the general expectation is the Nationals will hold the seat.  

The only recent public poll is a 400-sample targeted YouGov phone poll with primary votes of Nats 25 Labor 23 Shooters 16 One Nation 11 Greens 6 O'Connell 6 Reynolds 4 Norman 3 LDP 3 Others 3, 2PP 51-49 to Nationals.  (Shooters would not get out of third on such numbers.)  Several other polls, including Nationals internals (frequently a rich source of fine fictional narratives) are listed on Wikipedia.  It is worth noting, if we do see numbers anything like YouGov's (which have a remarkably low combined major party vote even for a large field), that the Shooters have preferenced Labor on their how to vote card recommendation.  

Antony Green has reported about half the voters will have voted before the day (mostly prepoll) and that counting tonight will include about c. 2000 iVotes, with  postals on Monday. Regarding prepolls we will get Singleton and Quirindi (about 40% of total prepolls) tonight with the rest from 9 am tomorrow.  


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