Late on election night I found myself in front of a television screen among a group of newly joined ALP members, the kinds of folk who pop up in these electoral circumstances the way buttercups appear in a field after spring rain.
They were cheering, booing and hissing, of course, roughly in the manner university students do when they first discover the joys of political involvement over a flagon of rough red. Except that these people had left their uni days behind some time in the 1970s.
John Howard's dignified concession speech elicited a torrent of boos that made his words almost inaudible. Julia Gillard's gracious tribute to the now ex-PM was met with sullen grumbling.
By far the greatest excitement, though, was reserved for Maxine McKew, the star ALP candidate who is the new member for Bennelong.
McKew is an intelligent, focused and personable politician with a big future. But it was hard to resist the impression that she appealed less for her personal and political qualities than on account of what she's taken to stand for.
You know what I mean. ABC-reared and raised. Socially concerned and culturally sophisticated. From the right part of town. Our kind of girl.
The media coverage of the election in McKew's home town of Sydney reflected some of the same obsessions. The three big seats in town were taken to be Bennelong, Malcolm Turnbull's eastern seat of Wentworth, and Joe Hockey's seat of North Sydney.
It's a focus that says more about the self-obsession of members of the political class than it does about Australian democracy.
In point of fact, the swing in Bennelong was almost slam-bang on the NSW average of 6 per cent. The Liberal vote went down by about 4.5 per cent; the greater part of Labor's increased vote actually came from the Greens, who ran dead.
In North Sydney the swing was less than 5 per cent, and Hockey was never troubled. In Wentworth there was no swing at all. High-profile but accident-prone lawyer George Newhouse was the only Labor candidate in NSW to lead his party backwards.
In short, most of the big stories were not such big stories, truth be told.
By contrast, there were other results, in other, less fashionable parts of town, that were much more telling indications of the country's new electoral landscape.
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