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 have narrowed dramatically. Still, many are now predicting a Labor win.
In 2019, the current government won 48 of the 93 seats 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, but they only need four to scrap a minority win. 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 depending on vote swings. Polling however indicates that they may not have the support to deliver those big swings across the state, meaning NSW could be headed for a hung parliament.
In addition to the Coalition and Labor, ten seats are 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.
Pre-polling opened across the state on Saturday and by Wednesday, 11.56% of voters had already cast their ballot.
Here are the NSW state election 2023 predictions.
NSW State Election Opinion Polls
The final polls are rolling in with just hours to go before the election.
The last Essential Poll from The Guardian has found that incumbent Premier Dominic Perrottet is still the preferred state leader, on 36% to Opposition Chris Minns’ 33%, but that both parties’ major policies have failed to excite voters.
Most of the big announcements don’t appear to have swayed voters one way or another, according to the poll, with a few appearing to even turn voters away. The Coalition’s gambling reform push appears very unpopular with Liberal voters and Labor’s wage cap overturn has also not rocked anyone’s mind. However, 41% of voters still believe that Labor will win the election, while just 35% think the Coalition will do it. The Guardian has described this as “the closest state election since at least 2007.”
Roy Morgan has also released its final polling which has found that Labor have increased their two-party preferred vote share by one point over the last few weeks, while the Coalition have dropped a point. This leaves the ALP on 53.5% and the LNP on 46.5%. Controversially, they found that Minns was the preferred leader over Perrottet by a margin of 4%, although this has narrowed by 4% as well. The figures are higher here because Roy Morgan doesn’t give an ‘undecided’ response option.
The poll also found that 32% of voters would be voting for a minor party or independent, with the Greens taking the largest share of these votes, up two points on 13%.
Yet, The Sydney Morning Herald released its latest polling on Monday, conducted on its behalf by Resolve Strategic, which shows that Perrottet has “clawed back ground.”
The poll, which surveyed 1000 voters between March 14 and 19, revealed that the Coalition’s primary vote had jumped six points to 38%, while Labor’s had remained the same at 38%. Perrottett claimed his highest rating as preferred leader on 40%, with Chris Minns steady on 34%. However, the poll indicated that Labor would likely take government, with the help of crossbenchers, as a 4.5% swing towards Labor is predicted.
“The Coalition actually have to win seats to regain a majority, so this swing against them kiboshes any hope they might have of achieving that. Instead, the 4.5-point swing makes a hung parliament a real prospect, especially given the variable swings we’re seeing in different regions,” Resolve director Jim Reed said.
Previous Resolve polling, taken from February 22-26, saw Labor increase their primary vote share by one point while the Coalition slipped two points, indicating a 7% swing in Labor’s favour.
The Australian has previously commissioned polling from Newspoll, conducted from February 20 until February 23 of 1014 voters. That poll found that support for Labor had fallen by four points since September of last year. Labor was 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 led 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.
Another poll, by lobby firm RedBridge Group, was conducted from February 27 to March 2 and covered 1230 people. Focusing 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”.
This appears to be confirmed by a report in The Australian that suggests there is “deep fear within [Labor] party ranks that the contest is perilously close, and many expect only the narrowest of wins or a minority Chris Minns-led government when it should be a landslide”.
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 23 — Tab has Labor to win outright at odds of 1.15, with a Coalition win at 5.60. However, they also have the odds of a hung Parliament at 1.40.
SportsBet, who had to suspend betting after appearing to get their odds wildly wrong, now has Labor to win at 1.15, with a Coalition win at 5.50. According to the betting company, a hung Parliament sits at odds of 1.40, and the most likely type of government to be formed will be a Labor minority.
Ladbrokes also has low odds for a Labor win, with the company paying 1.14 for a victory. They have the Coalition on similar odds to their competitors, sitting at 5.00. 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 Leaders Debate?
Chris Minns scored a decisive final victory over his opponent in the last leaders debate before the election. SkyNews hosted the third and final debate on Wednesday night between the two party leaders vying for the Premiership, where Minns picked up just under half of the undecided audience’s support.
Perrottet was only able to claim the support of 32% of the audience, with 20% remaining undecided.
The pair clashed over energy bills, road tolls, privatisation, and competing long-term economic plans, with Perrottet “on the back foot” from the start after Minns launched an opening slam on the Coalition’s legacy of selling public assets. The Liberal leader was forced to defend his party’s actions, while Minns hammered home the idea that they would continue to sell off state assets unless voted from office. The message appeared to hit home with the largely Western Sydney audience, who are forced to drive on privatised roads, which cost them tolls.
Perrottet also faced awkward questions over a brewing scandal that he pressured the Health Minister to secure an ambulance for his wife during a recent health scare. Perrottet denied that he had received special treatment. However, this concern comes at the same time that the NSW Paramedics Association are uphappy their about tough working conditions and long wait times.
The debate does not bode well for the Coalition on Saturday.
Who Won the Great Debate?
Minns and Perrottet clashed for a second-time on 9News’ ‘Great Debate’ last 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, 9News had no such offering.
However, the political correspondents at The Sydney Morning Herald have argued that the Premier won this debate 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.