Following the recent redistribution, Labor holds 18 seats, the Coalition holds 71, the Greens two and independents two. In addition, Labor gained the Liberal seats of Charlestown, Miranda and Newcastle at redistributions. Not including those by-election gains, the Coalition needs to lose 25 seats to lose their majority, and Labor needs to gain 29 seats to win a majority.
Assuming the Coalition loses no seats to independents, Labor would need to gain a uniform swing of 14.7% to deprive the Coalition of a majority. A uniform swing of 19% would give Labor a majority. These 29 Coalition-Labor seats are where most of the election will be focused, along with a few other Coalition seats with larger margins.
Of course, swings are never uniform. While we would expect a swing of 15-19% to produce a hung parliament, different seats will swing in different ways. This could mean seats on smaller margins staying in Coalition hands, or Labor challenging in seats with much larger margins.
At the 2011 election, the Coalition polled 64.2% of the two-party-preferred vote. Most recent polling has had the Coalition polling 53-55% of the two-party-preferred vote, or a swing of 9-11%.
There are eleven Coalition seats held by margins of less than 5%. All of these seats were held by Labor prior to the 2011 election. These seats are: Granville and Prospect in Western Sydney; East Hills and Macquarie Fields in South-Western Sydney; Oatley and Rockdale in the St George area; Maitland, Newcastle and Swansea in the Hunter region; Wyong on the Central Coast; and Monaro in southern NSW.
You would expect most, if not all, of the seats in this range to be won by Labor. Newcastle was already won by Labor at the October 2014 by-election.
When you move beyond the 5% threshold, there are eight Liberal seats held by margins of 5-10% against Labor. These seats are: Campbelltown, Londonderry and Seven Hills in western Sydney; Charlestown in the Hunter; Coogee in the eastern suburbs of Sydney; Strathfield in the inner west of Sydney; Kiama on the south coast; and Blue Mountains on the western fringe of Sydney. Labor has already gained Charlestown at the 2014 by-election.
All of these seats were held by Labor prior to the 2011 election, and they are key seats Labor will need to win. It’s likely that a majority of these seats will fall to Labor, but on current polling the Liberal Party may be in a position to hold on to some of these seats.
When you move beyond the level predicted by current polling, there are ten Liberal seats on margins of 10-20%. If Labor gained all of these seats, they would be in a position to form government. These seats are: Mulgoa, Parramatta and Penrith in Western Sydney; Heathcote and Holsworthy in southern Sydney; Gosford and The Entrance on the Central Coast; Port Stephens in the Hunter; Drummoyne in the inner west of Sydney; and Bega on the far south coast of NSW.
Depending on variable swing, some of these seats would be expected to fall, and others to be held on. Current polling suggests Labor will struggle to win many of these seats. Eight of these ten seats were held by Labor prior to the last election. Port Stephens was Labor-held until 2007, while Bega has long been held by the Liberal Party, and is now held by the current Treasurer.
It’s worth noting that in Port Stephens and the Entrance, the current MP was elected as a Liberal but now sits as an independent after grabbing the attention of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) these events may make it easier for Labor to gain these seats than the margin suggests.
There are a handful of Nationals seats in northern NSW held by margins of over 20% against Labor where the campaign suggests that the seat is in play: Ballina, Lismore and Tweed. In the first two of these seats, the Greens outpolled Labor in 2011. Labor is running a strong campaign in these seats and have a chance of gaining these seats with a big swing.
There are a handful of other seats held by Labor prior to the last election, which are expected to remain in Coalition hands but could be expected to have an above-average swing: Bathurst, Camden, Riverstone, Ryde and Wollondilly. Miranda was Labor-held from 1999 to 2011, then Liberal held from 2011 until the 2013 by-election. While it is currently Labor-held, it seems likely that the seat will return to the Liberal Party.
There are also a selection of seats where minor parties or independents could win.
In Tamworth, former MP Peter Draper is running again after losing his seat to the Nationals in 2011.
In Wollongong, where Labor MP Noreen Hay narrowly held on against an independent challenge in 2011, union leader Arthur Rorris is running a high-profile campaign as an independent.
In Penrith, former federal LiberalMP Jackie Kelly is running as an independent. It’s hard to know how impactful Kelly will be, and whether she has any chance of winning.