Premier Dominic Perrottet has clawed back ground in the final days before Saturday’s election, but NSW Labor is still favoured to win government with the support of key crossbenchers.
As the campaign enters its final stretch, the contest has tightened after the Coalition’s primary vote jumped six points to 38 per cent. Labor’s primary remains unchanged on 38 per cent.
Perrottet has edged further ahead as preferred premier, securing his highest rating since taking over as leader (40 per cent), while Labor leader Chris Minns is steady on 34 per cent.
However, with the results indicating a 4.5 per cent swing, Labor is on track to return to power for the first time in 12 years, but will probably need the backing of crossbench MPs to form government.
The latest Resolve Political Monitor for the shows 39 per cent of voters believe Labor will win the election, while 27 per cent think the Coalition will prevail. Some 34 per cent are undecided.
While Perrottet’s favorability as leader has grown and the Coalition’s primary vote has strengthened, Labor has narrowed the gap in key policy areas including the economy.
Resolve director Jim Reed said Labor remained the favourites, but the outcome was not certain because 16 per cent of voters remained undecided and only 4 per cent of voters had voted early. Pre-poll voting opened across the state on Saturday.
“While Labor have been ahead since Gladys Berejiklian resigned, this election has always been difficult to call because voters have been so disengaged and haven’t really been able to judge what are two quite new leaders to them,” Reed said.
“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.”
While the Coalition’s primary vote has increased, the Greens have dropped three percentage points (down to 8 per cent from 11 per cent) and independents have also taken a hit.
Independents, particularly Climate 200-backed teal candidates in Sydney’s north, have been seen as a risk to the Liberals in this poll after the disastrous result for the party in the federal election.
Liberal strategists in NSW are increasingly confident that they will be able to stave off a teal wave, however Lane Cove, held by the Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, is seen as the most at-risk. Independent Victoria Davidson is contesting the seat which is on a margin of 14.7 per cent.
Labor is also hoping it can win back the inner-city seat of Balmain from the Greens, which is vulnerable because the party’s popular MP Jamie Parker is retiring at the election.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has campaigned in Balmain and will be in the electorate on Saturday, handing out how-to-vote cards for the Labor candidate Philippa Scott.
The Greens have ruled out backing the Coalition in the event of a minority government, but have released a list of policy demands that it will make before agreeing to support Labor.
Other key independents, including Sydney MP Alex Greenwich and Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, have said they will not back Labor unless it agrees to implement a mandatory cashless gaming card.
Reed said it was difficult to predict the composition of a minority government.
“In a hung parliament scenario, a lot will depend on how many seats change hands and the make-up of the crossbench,” Reed said.
“Each will have their own leanings and allegiances, and may also be swayed by the views of their electors, the overall result and cashless gaming policies.”
Reed said Perrottet was winning the “personal battle” and Minns the “policy battle”.
“Perrottet has managed to pull his personal ratings ahead of Minns during the campaign, and the party’s performance ratings have also lifted slightly,” Reed said.
“The Liberals will see that as a win given all the scandals and personal questions he faced pre-campaign. Conversely, Minns is liked but doesn’t appear to have converted new supporters in the last few weeks.”
The Resolve Political Monitor surveyed 1000 eligible voters from Tuesday to Sunday, a period that followed the Liberal Party’s campaign launch, where Perrottet unveiled his signature policy of a superannuation-style fund for children.
Parents and grandparents can contribute to a savings fund, with some matched by the government, for education and housing to be accessed by children when they turn 18.
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