Reading the polls, it is clear that the ALP is on track for a massive defeat in 2011. Current polls suggest a swing of at least 13%, possibly above 15%, when looking at the two-party-preferred vote.
In the current environment, those Labor seats on margins of less than 10% will be extremely difficult to hold. These seats include Menai, Miranda and Heathcote in the Sutherland Shire; Camden and Wollondilly in the Macarthur area; Gosford, The Entrance and Wyong on the Central Coast. In addition, the ALP will struggle in Coogee, in the Eastern Suburbs, Drummoyne in the Inner West, and Monaro in Southern NSW.
Seats further up the pendulum which could prove key in this election include Rockdale, Kogarah, Oatley and East Hills in Southern Sydney; and the Blue Mountains, Riverstone, Granville, Macquarie Fields, Mulgoa, Parramatta and Toongabbie in Western Sydney. Also in this range are Cessnock and Swansea in the Hunter, Kiama in the Illawarra, and Bathurst in Western NSW.
There are six independent MPs currently holding seats in the Legislative Assembly. Three of those MPs hold their seats by relatively slim margins over the National Party, and in those seats of Dubbo, Port Macquarie and Tamworth, they could be in danger of losing their seats.
In a number of Labor seats, there are strong prospects for independent candidates. At the 2007 election, independent councillors came close to beating Labor MPs in the Hunter seats of Maitland, Newcastle and Charlestown. Lord Mayor of Newcastle John Tate is running again in Newcastle. In Maitland and Charlestown, the Liberal Party is hoping to win the seat.
Other seats with strong independent challenges include Wollongong, Parramatta and Granville.
There are two seats that are key targets of the Greens. In Balmain and Marrickville, local Greens mayors are running against key ministers in the Labor government, and with margins of 3.8% and 7.5% respectively, these seats are highly vulnerable.
The only Coalition seat with a serious chance of changing hands in 2011 is Hornsby, where the local mayor, Nick Berman, is running as an independent. Berman was previously a member of the Liberal Party’s right faction, and resigned when he looked set to lose preselection to moderate Matt Kean. It remains to be seen how loyal local voters are to him, and whether the expected Liberal landslide can protect Kean.