NSW Labor’s pathway to victory is a difficult one. That difficulty is in part compounded by the unprecedented housing boom in this country, where most Australians now sit on mortgages that are up to 15 times their annual salary.


The epicenter of this housing crisis, be it affordability or attainment, is in Sydney, where property prices have also had a profound impact on the political landscape. Unlike any other city, Sydney’s demographic footprint has been shaped by property.


In Melbourne, highly educated millennial progressives can still live in many of that city’s inner suburbs, even though housing attainment has also recently reached crisis levels. Poorer migrants have over the last decade been able to access the property market along Melbourne’s growth corridors, which have created vast stretches of political territory more friendly to the Left side of politics.


In Sydney, these two critical cohorts have been funneled into existing Labor seats. Property prices have made it extremely difficult for poor migrants or assetless higher, educated millennials to move further out along Sydney’s outer western suburbs.


Hence, Labor holds most of the seats that contain the greatest number of renters and are the most diverse.


Parramatta is of course a massive exception to this and our recent poll suggests that these demographic traits have opened up a large gate for Labor to pass through and secure this seat.


This gate closes as we head further out to seats like Penrith. It has fewer renters, it’s less diverse and it’s certainly not the seat that Labor once used to hold at the turn of the 21st century. Based on our research, the Liberal Party is still hanging on but only just. One of their biggest threats is One Nation, which seem to be cannibalising votes on the Liberal Party’s Right flank. Unlike other states, the Liberal Party cannot rely on preferences to secure this loss. In 2019, only 25% of One Nation voters did not exhaust their vote in Penrith. Of that, only 14% ended up flowing back to the Liberal Party.


We expect this pattern to repeat itself right across Sydney. Labor’s path will be made easier where seats contain a greater number of renters and poorer voters from diverse backgrounds. That results in a limited number of seats, that include Parramatta and Ryde, but that demographic trend is not as strong in other critical seats like East Hills.


Although political gravity alone may indeed cost the Coalition enough seats to oust them from government, the demographics of Sydney matter more than any other political landscape in this country.


The full aggregate report for both seats can be downloaded here. We do think that the Liberal vote is a little underreported in Parramatta but not enough to change the overall result, which will be a Labor win.

Key Summary

  • Parramatta – 2PP 54/46 to Labor (note the caveats)
  • Penrith – 2PP 51/49 to Liberal (note the caveats)
  • 60% of 18-39 year old voters in these two seats who are renting or living with parents think they will never own a home
  • 73% of parents think their children will never be able to own a home