Sentiment may seem clear but NSW election is the Coalition’s to lose

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The election is not Labor’s to win but rather the Coalition’s to lose.

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The fact that Gladys Berejikilian is trailing both in terms of the two-party preferred result and favoured leader shows just how close the Coalition is to losing its hold on a majority government.

Publicly, the Coalition will dismiss the poll (and Labor will downplay it) but privately it will make the government nervous because they still find it impossible to accept they are in this precarious position.

The poll result reinforces that this election is on a knife-edge and plenty is at stake.

A statewide poll like this one gives an idea of the mood and sentiment of the broader electorate but it does not represent the full picture of how the election will unfold.

The election will be a seat-by-seat proposition, with a uniform swing almost certain not to eventuate.

With optional preferential voting in NSW, predicting an outcome is notoriously difficult. One seat could be won with a primary vote in the mid-30s, while others could require at least 45 per cent.

Seat by seat polling may tell a more accurate picture in marginal electorates, and all political parties are forking out on research to try and gauge the state of play. But seat polling is often widely inaccurate.

Voters are swamped with campaigning candidates at the moment, both at a state and federal, and many would be unaware that there are two separate elections.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is trailing Labor's Michael Daley as preferred premier in a new poll.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is trailing Labor’s Michael Daley as preferred premier in a new poll.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Pre-poll voting starts tomorrow and you would expect booths will resemble a ghost town in the early days because voters are still not engaged.

But asked to turn their mind to state issues by pollsters, this result shows that voters are not automatically favouring the incumbent.

The final two weeks will be critical for both sides, but especially for Berejiklian because just six seats are keeping her in a majority government.

And if that majority is lost, and either side is forced to form a government with a minority, NSW faces a very precarious four years in the country’s oldest parliament.

Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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