Saturday’s Illawarra Mercury helpfully featured opinion polls conducted by local outfit IRIS of each of the five state electorates on the paper’s turf, each with sample sizes of 400 and margins of error approaching 5%. The best way to read such a poll is to combine the results, which points to an Illawarra-wide swing against Labor of 21% from a margin of error of about 2.2%. Even by Labor’s recent standards this is a dismal result: the average swing in statewide polls has been about 16%. Thanks to reader DaveM for passing this on.

I am using the occasion to offer the first look at my New South Wales election guide, which I will publish piece-by-piece as the campaign progresses. The electorates in turn, from north to south:

Heathcote (Labor 8.8%): Heathcote is being defended by Labor incumbent Paul McLeay, whose obligatory item of baggage is his resignation from the ministry in June 2010 after admitting he had used a parliamentary computer to visit p-rnography and gaming sites. The poll suggests McLeay might not even finish second: Liberal opponent Lee Evans has 49% to 23% for McLeay and 19% for Greens candidate Phil Smith. The Liberal lead on two-party preferred is 62-38.

Keira (Labor 22.0%): Labor’s enormous margin might not be enough for its candidate, former Transport Department deputy chief Ryan Park, to succeed the outgoing David Campbell, the former Transport Minister who quit after Channel Seven screened footage of him leaving a gay s-x club. Park trails Liberal candidate John Dorahy, who was the inaugural captain of NSWRL club the Illawarra Steelers in the 1980s, by 37% to 44% on the primary vote and 48% to 52% on two-party preferred.

Wollongong (Labor 25.3%): A margin of this size should surely be a bridge too far for the Liberals, but the poll suggests independent Gordon Bradbery, a local Wesley Uniting Church minister, is a shot at succeeding where Liberal candidate Michelle Blivacs is likely to fail. Defending Labor member Noreen Hay leads the primary vote with 34% against 24% for Blivacs and 23% for Bradbery. With Bradbery likely to overhaul Blivacs after preferences on these figures, the final two-candidate preferred result has Hay holding on against Bradbery by 53% to 47%.

Shellharbour (Labor 26.8%): Here at least the poll suggests Labor is safe, despite the retirement after one term of sitting member Lylea McMahon. Their new candidate, United Services Union organiser Anna Watson, has 52% of the primary vote to 34% for Liberal candidate Larissa Mallinson, and a 61% to 39% lead on two-party preferred.

Kiama (Labor 12.0%): Labor member Matt Brown, who lost his job as Police Minister after the world learnt of him dancing in his underpants at a late-night party in the office of Wollongong MP Noreen Hay, appears to be in all sorts of trouble with a primary vote of just 27%. Liberal candidate and Shoalhaven deputy mayor Gareth Ward is on 42%, and has a commanding 60% to 40% lead on two-party preferred.