The NSW State election is coming in hot, and the race to run the government is growing tighter. On Saturday, March 25, millions of residents will head to the polls to cast their vote and decide whether we see an end to the 12 years of Coalition rule or a continuation of the same.
After three terms and a change of Premier, the Coalition appears to be on shaky ground in the state. Early polling suggested a clean sweep for Labor, but as the race has come down to its final weeks those polls appear to be narrowing.
The current government won 48 of the 93 seats in 2019, to form a slim majority. That number has now fallen to just 45, two below the majority threshold, after byelection losses and defections to the crossbench. They need to pick up just two seats on March 25, which doesn’t sound like a lot, except that polling suggests they’re likely to lose more.
Labor currently has 38 seats, meaning they need to pick up nine more in order to form a majority government. There are nine Coalition seats with margins of less than 6.3%, which Labor are heavily targeting, but they could also pick up other seats with bigger margins. Polling suggests however that they may not have the support to deliver a big enough swing across the state, indicating that NSW could be headed for a hung parliament.
In addition to the two major parties, there are ten seats held by the Greens, the Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers Party, and four independent candidates. These crossbenchers could become key power players if no majority government is returned.
Here are the NSW state election 2023 predictions.
NSW State Election Opinion Polls
The latest polls come in the form of a Newspoll survey conducted on behalf of The Australian, a Resolve Political Monitor survey conducted on behalf of the Sydney Morning Herald, and a Roy Morgan poll which needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
The Newspoll survey, conducted from February 20-23 of 1014 voters, found that support for Labor had fallen by four points since September of last year. Labor now sits on 36% of the primary vote, one point less than the Coalition, which Newspoll found had 37% of the primary vote. However, in the two-party preferred vote, Labor still lead the Coalition 52-48. That type of swing would see them take four seats, well short of the nine they need to lead a majority government.
The Resolve survey, of 803 voters surveyed from February 22-26, found that Labor’s primary vote share had increased one point to 38% while the Coalition had slipped two points to 32%. This would work out to a 7% swing in Labor’s favour, giving them the support needed to claim 47 seats and govern outright. However, the survey also found that around a quarter of voters are still undecided over who to vote for.
The latest Roy Morgan poll, conducted, unusually, by SMS between February 24-28 of 981 voters, indicated that Labor’s primary vote share had increased by 1 point to 33.5%, while the Coalition had dropped 2.5% down to 32.5%. The two-party preferred vote indicated that 54% of voters thought Labor Leader Chris Minns would make a better Premier than Dominic Perrottet.
The Roy Morgan poll also found that 34% of voters will be putting a minor party or an independent candidate first, up 1.5% from January. Of these, the Greens have the biggest support at 11%, up 1.5%, followed by One Nation at 8.5%, up 2%. The Resolve survey also found that support for independent candidates was at 13%, which is a big concern for the Liberals.
Another poll, by lobby firm RedBridge Group, was conducted from February 27 to March 2 and covered 1,230 people. Focussing on the Sydney suburbs of Parramatta and Penrith, the poll assessed that “NSW Labor’s path to victory is a difficult one.”
Election analyst Adrian Beaumont used the above poll to inform his view that “Labor is unlikely to make the gains it needs to secure its own majority, so there’s a strong likelihood of a hung parliament”.
NSW Election Odds
The attempts by the Liberal Party to make gambling reform a key issue at the polls this time around haven’t stopped punters from putting a wager on the outcome of the election.
At the time of writing — March 14 — Tab has Labor to win outright at the current lowest odds across the market of 1.18, with a Coalition win at 4.75. However, they also have the odds of a hung Parliament at 1.50.
SportsBet, who had to suspend betting after appearing to get their odds wildly wrong, now has Labor to win outright at 1.25, with a Coalition win at 4.25. A hung Parliament sits at odds of 1.50, according to the betting company, with the most likely type of government to be formed a Labor minority.
Ladbrokes also has low odds for a Labor win, with the company paying 1.20 for an outright victory. They have the Coalition on better odds than the above two though, sitting at 4.00. Ladbrokes isn’t offering markets on anything other than the next government to take office, so we’ll never know how likely they think a hung Parliament is.
Who Won the Great Debate?
Minns and Perrottet went head to head once again in 9News’ ‘Great Debate’ on Wednesday. But in what has largely been considered a muted and lacklustre campaign, neither side came off decisively well.
Minns hammered Perrottet on the cost of living crisis, the lack of infrastructure in Western Sydney, and public sector pay. However, he seemed unable to provide any clear answers on how his government, if elected, would actually be able to solve any of these problems and more.
The Labor leader argued that it would be irresponsible to go on a major spending spree given the state of the NSW deficit, but that essentially backs him into a corner of inactivity. Not the most hearts-and-minds-winning argument.
“This election is a choice. A choice that the people of New South Wales have to make to save essential services in NSW,” Minns said in his closing statement.
“Whether it’s schools or hospitals, we need to retain our teachers, our nurses, our paramedics, our police officers. Labor has a plan to do that”.
Perrottet, meanwhile, left the debate with this message to voters: “We have got to keep moving forward, and it’s the Liberals and Nationals with the economic plan to do just that.”
“To continue to grow the economy and the opportunity that provides for everyone across NSW, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and continuing to build infrastructure, not just today, but for generations to come”.
Often these debates will have an ‘ask the audience’ portion where viewers can cast their vote over who they think won the debate. Unfortunately, 9 had no such offering, but political correspondents at The Sydney Morning Herald have argued that the Premier won it by a nose. Four of their journalists thought Perrottet gave the more convincing performance, and three thought Minns led the debate.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald’s opinion polling of 2600 votes, 72% believed that Perrottet won.