NSW Labor has continued to slip further behind the Coalition in the final Essential Research poll before Saturday’s State election.

On Essential’s three-week average, Labor has lost roughly one point a week on its primary vote through the campaign and has continued that form into the last week. It has now fallen to a primary vote of just 23%, with the Coalition on 55%. With the Greens on 11%, this means a Coalition two-party preferred lead of 66-34%, based on a sample of 971. The campaign by Kristina Keneally, while strong on the never-give-in stuff, appears to have further eroded Labor’s already disastrous position.

The only faintly positive outcome for Labor is that it continues to fare much better outside Sydney. It’s on 29% regionally, and “only” trails 42-58% on a 2PP basis, giving some faint hope to regional MPs like Monaro’s Steve Whan, who have been running campaigns devoid of all reference to Labor. The 2010 federal election was notable for the party’s strong performance outside Sydney, with its sitting MPs picking up a swing to Labor.

But the corollary of the stronger regional polling is Labor’s truly shocking performance in Sydney, where it is on just 20% primary vote.

A statewide 66-34% result would, based on Antony Green’s election calculator, leave Labor on 14 seats, but a 71-29% result in Sydney electorates would turn the party into a cricket team, prevent putative post-election leader John Robertson from moving from the Legislative Council to the seat of Blacktown (in net terms, a good outcome for Labor) and leave Keneally teetering on the brink of defeat in Heffron.

Labor is particularly struggling among 18-34 year olds, with a stronger Green vote of 14% leaving it on 21%. It shapes as a perhaps unique election: Labor could perform better among over 55s and in regional areas than it does elsewhere.