Two major exit polls have pointed to a government victory in Saturday's state election, returning NSW Premier Mike Baird to power for the next four years.
As polling booths closed, a Channel Seven-ReachTEL exit poll put the Coalition ahead of Labor 54 per cent to 46 per cent after preferences. The poll surveyed 2200 voters.
A Channel Nine-Galaxy poll also indicated a Coalition win, predicting it would beat Labor by 55 per cent to 45 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
It predicted the government would gain 46 per cent of the primary vote and Labor would snare 34 per cent, 9 per cent up from its shellacking at the 2011 election.
Support for the Greens was at 11 per cent, a slight gain on the last election.
The Galaxy poll was based on a sample of 2113 voters in 18 electorates.
In the last week of the campaign it appeared clear that Mr Baird would clinch a second term for the Coalition government, albeit with a vastly reduced majority.
The most recent polling indicated the government would suffer a 10 per cent swing against it, losing up to 18 seats.
It would dramatically redraw the power balance in the 93-seat Parliament after the government's landslide win in 2011 – the biggest in Australian political history – and put Labor within striking distance of an election victory in 2019.
This time around, Labor is expected to fall well short of gaining the 27 seats it needs to snatch power.
Mr Baird's personal popularity did not wane throughout the campaign, but he struggled to win broad support for his signature policy, a plan to part-lease the state's "poles and wires" and spend an expected $20 billion proceeds on big-ticket infrastructure projects, such as a second harbour rail crossing.
Labor, led by rookie leader Luke Foley, waged a strident campaign against the privatisation plan, backed by a vigorous anti-sell off advertising campaign by the unions.
Opponents warned of higher power prices and mass job losses if private interests controlled almost half the electricity network.
In the later stages of the campaign it emerged a Chinese-government owned company had shown interest in the power lease, prompting Labor and the unions to question the appropriateness of a foreign power leasing the state's electricity assets.
In regional NSW, bitter opposition to coal seam gas threatened to end the reign of Nationals MPs in a handful of seats, including Ballina, Tweed and Lismore on the north coast and Tamworth in north-west NSW.
In Western Sydney, a former Labor heartland, the government has not fully consolidated the gains it made in 2011 and several seats were expected to swing back to Labor at this election.
Mr Baird has claimed a win in the lower house would give his government a mandate to pass the power reforms.
However, results in the upper house will be crucial to the policy's future. The government needs a working majority in the upper house to pass its legislation.
A re-elected Coalition government will need to improve its position in the upper house, getting nine members elected to pass laws with the support of Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party, which has given conditional support to the policy.
Presently, the government relies on the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party, which shares the balance of power in the upper house and has vowed to block the power plan.
If the Baird government is returned, it would end the string of Coalition one-term governments, after recent conservative losses in the Victorian and Queensland elections.
Polls had indicated that beleaguered Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a friend of Mr Baird, would drag down the Coalition vote in NSW. Mr Abbott kept a low profile throughout the NSW campaign, appearing only twice – including at the Liberal Party launch where he did not address the crowd.