It was an election like no other. The closest comparison was the 1998 Queensland election, when One Nation shocked with its strong performance, says ABC election guru Antony Green.
He would know that too. Green’s official title is chief election analyst for the ABC. A much-loved piece of ABC’s election coverage, this was Green’s 12th federal election; he made about 90 state, territory and federal elections in total.
“I describe it as bungee jumping for intellectuals – you jump into the void via a stream of data,” he says. “For me, the terror is that something is wrong with the data stream, or that I have something wrong with the configuration; it always bothers me.
He’s a bit exhausted as we speak, a few days after the election. Remarkably, right after the TV show – a nearly six-hour stint involving constant analysis of on-air data – he drank a glass of wine and then returned to work. He had to reconfigure the ABC’s computer system with the post-election feed and didn’t leave until 4 a.m.
Earlier in the evening, Green had a moment of deja vu watching the Earl. “Around 7.30-7.40pm I had the same feeling as in 2019 – the results didn’t look like the polls. The Labor vote was down, the Liberal vote was up a bit. I was like, ‘The polls were they wrong again?’
Looking back, he admits, “We probably should have said earlier in the evening that the government couldn’t win.
“In saying that, it was terribly unclear how Labor could govern – it just sounded incredibly messy. Looking back, you can see that the regional and rural vote didn’t wobble like the cities. The picture became clearer once we got the towns under control, and the picture became very clear once Western Australia arrived.
At 62, Green says he could slowly leave the on-air role in the next few years. “The level of analysis that I do on camera gets a little hard to do,” he says. “We’ve gotten a lot quicker to decide whether to get numbers and go on air. To be relevant with numbers all the time, you have to be pretty pissed off.