Nationals' Dugald Saunders holds lead for Dubbo seat

CLOSE RACE: As voting currently stands, Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders is in the lead for the Dubbo electorate with 51.6 per cent of the two party preferred votes. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
CLOSE RACE: As voting currently stands, Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders is in the lead for the Dubbo electorate with 51.6 per cent of the two party preferred votes. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Independent candidate Mathew Dickerson says if he was a betting man, his money would be on the Nationals' Dugald Saunders to win the election.

There remains a slim margin between the two candidates and counting is not expected to be completed until Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, the two candidate preferred results had Mr Saunders with 51.6 per cent of the votes. With 83 per cent of the votes counted, election analysts had tipped him to win.

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If the Nationals win Dubbo, it will allow the Berejiklian government to secure a majority in NSW.

But Mr Dickerson was staying positive.

"At the moment it's five minutes before the end of the footy match and I'm still behind. I'd much rather be in front than behind, and it's going to be tough to make up that small percentage," he said.

"If I was a betting man I'd be betting on the Nationals rather than me at this stage but I'm not going to make any decision on that, it's not my decision to make. I'll wait for the electoral commission to finish the count and for the umpire to make that call."

Mr Saunders is also quietly confident. On Monday, he reiterated the optimism he has had since counting began.

"I always figured it would be down to a couple of thousand votes and that's exactly what we've had. I knew it would be close and I knew I had a job to do and I've certainly done my job," Mr Saunders said.

As voting currently stands, Mr Saunders has 38.1 per cent of the first preference votes. Mr Dickerson has 28.8 per cent.

Country Labor's Stephen Lawrence had 14.4 per cent of the first preferences, while Shooters, Fishers and Farmers' Lara Quealy took out 13.4 per cent.

He said the 20 per cent swing against the Nationals in Dubbo was "a little bit outrageous".

"It's not a swing against me. Troy Grant was the sitting member, he may have had a huge swing, but I started with a base of nothing. We all started on a level playing field," Mr Saunders said.

Mr Saunders said to him, Dubbo had never been a safe seat for the Nationals, having been held by Independents for 12 years before Troy Grant.

If unsuccessful, Mr Dickerson ruled out running in the federal election or returning to council.

"I've got time to sit back and reflect and work out what those plans may be, but no specific plans. I've still got a business and I've got employers there I haven't even met yet. I've got a wife and four children who haven't seen a lot of me so I should probably say hello to them," he said.

"But at the moment it's just waiting for the result."​