Labor Party headquarters was a sea of open jaws and stunned expressions on Saturday night.
Badly misled into a false sense of security by a string of polls pointing to a close but clear win, by close of counting last night the chances of Bill Shorten's team forming government appeared remote, although the result remained unclear.
The ambitious reform agenda put forward by Bill Shorten has been rejected, with voters choosing stability - and possibly tax cuts - over proposals to make deep investments in health, education and infrastructure.
To his credit, Prime Minister Scott Morrison now stands on the cusp of victory in his own right after running a disciplined, focused and energetic campaign, albeit one that failed to break ground on many of the big issues facing our nation, namely low wages, environmental degradation, and surging waiting lists at the nation's hospitals.
There is little good news in this result for Canberra. While some voters, particularly well-off retirees, will be breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of a likely Morrison government being returned, there is plenty to dislike.
In the dying days of the campaign the Coalition announced it would pull $1.5 billion out of the public service and extend the efficiency dividend. The government that started the process of taking government jobs out of Canberra and decentralising them to the regions now looks likely to continue that work.
Labor's policy of winding back tax breaks for the "top end of town" and redistributing them to lower and middle income people no doubt hurt it, and there will be serious questions in the coming days about whether they reached too far, or put forward too radical an agenda that caused the nation to balk.
The Liberals, if the result continues to go in their favour, will find new wind in their sails to press on with their massive tax cuts.
In a week overshadowed by the death of legendary Labor leader Bob Hawke, a man who led potentially the most significant transformation of Australia's economy in decades, we have seen a rejection of bold, big policy campaigning.
The unfortunate element of last night's result is that it reaffirms the depressing notion that negative campaigning works, and that visionary policies and spelling out a plan for a new direction for the nation doesn't. Labor may never be so bold again, which is a shame given elections should be a contest of ideas, and not reward those with the best scare tactics.
The challenge for the Liberals, should they go on to claim victory, will be finding a strong narrative for this next government, given they spent much of the campaign painting themselves as a small target.