What Happened?

So there it is: the Coalition is almost certainly going to retain government in some form for the next three years. Whether it’ll be a full-on majority government or a minority government relying on independents and minor parties is still clear, but we’ll definitely have Scott Morrison and his team for the next three years.

This is obviously not what was predicted, which goes without saying. Basically every poll over the past couple of years has been in Labor’s favour. Even the exit polling yesterday pointed to a comfortable Labor win on a 52-48 basis.

Instead of a swing to Labor, we’ve seen in many states – including Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania – a big swing towards the Coalition.

So what cooked it for Labor?

There are obviously many profound currents which the conversation wasn’t picking up on. I think one obvious thing that is going to come through in the analyses is that the Coalition’s attacks on Labor’s franking credits and tax policy cut through substantially, and that Labor’s wishy-washiness on things like the Adani mine and coal more generally also did them no favours. The conversation is probably going to focus on those points above all.

The New Daily reports that according to Labor’s numbers, the biggest swings towards the Coalition were with over-65s. That suggests that franking credits and dividend imputation were most likely a defining issue. If you’re a young Australian not benefitting from that quite obvious rort, then you’ll find that disheartening to hear. Australia is a gerontocracy by design: older landlords have this country by the nuts, and they will not give up their trinkets without a fight.

On the polling front, ABC election analyst Antony Green had a hot take: he reckons that polls are just not sampling correctly anymore. Back in the day you’d go through the electoral roll and call landline phones, giving you a solid and trackable sampling of the electorate. It’s difficult to do that these days accurately, and Green says that is reflected in how off-base the polls were this election.

On the other hand, The New Daily also reports that Labor sources are saying their internal polls never put them in a position more comfortable than minority government at any point in the campaign. Whether that is accurate or just Labor covering for a big blind spot leaves to be seen.

Queensland is being pointed at as the centre of the carnage, with significant swings recorded towards the Coalition across the state, with the Liberal National Party picking up at least a couple of seats in the state. But it’s not just Queensland – in Tasmania, Labor is likely to lose two seats to the Liberals. It’s very easy to freak out about Queensland (it’s always soft target for progressive angst) but these results have been reflected pretty solidly across the nation. That’s worth remembering before you get your knives out for our northern neighbours.

This is going to be incredibly difficult time for progressive Australians, make no mistake. We cannot expect that the Labor Party is going to take progressive lessons from this shellacking. In fact, we can probably expect a retreat, at least initially, from whatever progressive policies they did actually articulate – and that is going to suck. And it is the most vulnerable in Australian society who will suffer most keenly.

The autopsy of the Labor campaign will surely continue over the coming days and months. But this is basically where we’re at.