It is often said that a week is a long time in politics.

The 2010 result was actually very close, and depended in no small way on the National party re-claiming one of its lost districts in the form of Gippsland East, held by the independent Craig Ingram since 1999.

At the beginning of last week – seven days before the 27 November state election – the opinion polls were indicating that a swing was occurring against John Brumby’s Labor party. These polls suggested that the two party swing was somewhere around 4 percent to the Liberal-National coalition, and that the Greens were picking up a lot of the shift in primary vote from Labor.

On the basis of this, many commentators (myself included) surmised that Labor would lose seats in the election, but that the Coalition would be unlikely to win the 13 seats it needed to secure to form a government. The Greens, meanwhile, were severely disadvantaged by the Liberals announcing that they would direct preferences to Labor instead. Columnists filed their copy and pundits made their predictions on Thursday night. A Galaxy poll that morning had indicated that the polls were 50-50 – close, but not enough of a swing for Mr Baillieu.

Late on Friday afternoon, a rumour swept the commentariat that a Morgan face-to-face poll was showing a 52-48 split to the Coalition, and that Nielsen poll would be showing 51 to 49 for the Coalition. The polls confirmed what a small number of party insiders had been hinting: the swing was on and Labor could be in trouble.

Saturday’s election confirmed the finding of the late polls. After four years of trailing Labor in every opinion poll until the last week, the Liberal-National coalition under the leadership of Ted Baillieu had won 12 seats and was on the verge of securing the additional seat needed to secure a majority in the Legislative Assembly. By Monday afternoon, Mr Baillieu was premier of Victoria.

There were some interesting features in this election. Because of the extent of the swing and the number of seats transferred, this election has the feeling of a land-slide to the Liberals. This is true enough, but it should be remembered that the Liberals were coming off a particularly bad result in 2006, and many gains could be understood as naturally Liberal-voting seats being reclaimed from Labor.

The 2010 result was actually very close, and depended in no small way on the National party re-claiming one of its lost districts in the form of Gippsland East, held by the independent Craig Ingram since 1999.

Two other seats were also very important to the Liberal success, not the least because they required swings in excess of 6.5 percent to fall. The loss of the semi-rural district of Seymour and the outer southern suburban seat of Carrum were the difference in this election. Had Labor retained one of them, the result would have been a 44-all tie. Had Labor held both of them, Mr Brumby would still be premier.

It’s worth reflecting on these two seats for a moment because the way they voted said something about the way the electorate has responded to the Brumby government’s approach to the policy debate.

Seymour is the seat in which the Brumby government built the north-south water pipeline from the Goulburn River to Melbourne’s Sugarloaf reservoir. The government saw this as an urgently needed project designed to protect the city’s water supply amidst a severe drought. Locals opposed the plan, not only because of the imposition on the property rights of those in the path of the pipeline, but also because of the feeling that Melbourne was taking away a resource much needed in the local district. An anti-pipeline action group was formed, protests were held, and a property owner – Jan Beer – was arrested.

Ms Beer was a candidate in Saturday’s election. She ran in the seat of Seymour, and issued how-to-vote cards directing preferences away from sitting Labor member, Ben Hardman. The Liberals won this seat on Saturday thanks in part to Ms Beer’s preferences.

And what was the problem in Carrum? Some suggest the failings of Melbourne’s rail system might have had an impact on this commuter area, or that Ted Baillieu’s hard stand on law-and-order resonated in a district in which public safety has always been an issue. Like many outer-urban areas, voters expect effective service delivery preferably without signs of waste and inefficiency. Carrum, like adjacent seats Mordialloc and Frankston, probably reacted to failures like Myki and perceptions that not enough police had been allocated to the area.

That Carrum should have fallen to the Liberals was indeed significant, given that this was a seat that the Liberals failed to win back in 1992 when Jeff Kennett was storming in to power. In fact, Carrum had only been lost by Labor once before, and that was in 1996 when John Brumby was leader of the then Labor opposition.