Who knew? If an election does not feel like a change-of-government election, it probably isn't one. This was long the most puzzling aspect of this contest: routine polling predictions of Labor victory while nobody, it seemed, had personally come across a mood for change.
It was oft-remarked, but seemed easily explained. Nobody was thrilled by Bill Shorten, but voters were tired enough of a divided Coalition to give Labor a go.
Strong feelings, it seemed, didn't have to come into it. Turns out they did.
Australians have, for a very long time, been cautious with their votes. Change is hard to come by.
For example, first-term federal governments always win.
On the rare occasions change does come, it arrives either via disgust - as in Keating's broken tax promises in 1996, or Labor's long-lived leadership chaos in 2013 - or excitement, as with Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd.
So Shorten didn't bring the thrill. Shouldn't this government have inspired the requisite disgust?
The short answer is yes. On any fair measure, it has been hopeless: ramshackle, mean, often laughable, possessing neither ambition nor philosophy. If it had lost this election it might have gone down as the worst that we have had.
But it didn't, and now gets its chance at redemption - because the disgust wasn't there. The question Labor will ask itself is: why not?
After all, Labor was unified, while the Coalition divided. But 2013 is not so long ago as Labor wishes.
It is also true that Morrison, old Liberal operative and recent treasurer, advertised himself successfully as a cleanskin. It's possible that the resignations of old figures such as Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull - which seemed disastrous at the time - helped, providing a sense that we already had a new government. If that were true, why vote in another?
I suspect there is also something in this question posed last week by Peter Lewis, of Essential: "Living in one of the most affluent nations on earth at the wealthiest time in human history, are we, as a nation, happy to just keep staring into our devices and maintain the status quo?"
Morrison's campaign was built around this hope. He didn't do anything to upset anyone. He achieved this by not doing anything at all. Remarkably, this worked.
Saturday brought heartbreak for Labor. It is hard to overstate the hurt. Government had seemed so close, for so long.
To watch that future bleed away as the night dragged on and votes trickled in was baffling and bruising for those in Labor ranks. Deliver a unified party, come up with an impressive platform, face down a divided government - what else could they have done?
Scott Morrison has perfected the art of sidling through the spotlight without saying anything at all. I am shocked that it has worked for him.
Their greater sorrow will be the dreams lost, at least for now. A republic. Indigenous recognition, and the detailed plans Pat Dodson had begun already to lay out. Actual progress on climate change. Equal pay for women.
Several lessons will be learned. They may not be the right ones.
This is the greatest danger for Labor. Shorten has several times recently said that the times would suit him. They didn't, and that will force Labor to ask what it knows and doesn't know about the times.
And yet, while this was a brutal, unexpected loss, it was still a very close election.
This, surely, is the central fact of recent times: in the past four elections, three prime ministers have ended up on stage having to explain to the country that they cannot yet be sure of a majority.
This is a lesson for Labor, with hindsight, but it is also a lesson for those of us assessing the result right now: a nation's mood is rarely monolithic.
Comparisons with 1993 and John Hewson are everywhere. But 2004 might serve just as well: a government with few ideas wins, at a time of relative complacency, against a leader who voters find concerning. Which set of lessons do we draw?
The answer lies in nuance. For example, the simple conclusion that Labor shouldn't take ambitious policy to an election is wrong. In fact, Labor has never won without ambition.
The lesson, I suspect, is more specific, about creating losers on taxation.
Similarly, there will be arguments that this result repudiates action on climate change. But hasn't Morrison invested months in trying to repair the Coalition's image on this issue?
Little here is simple. One lesson is hard to avoid. Labor cannot win without a popular leader. Crucially, this is not the same as saying that the party might have won with someone else.
Who else would have opposed the 2014 budget, which saw off Abbott? And if it wasn't for Shorten's tax policies, Turnbull might still be prime minister.
History is never so straightforward that one strand can be surgically removed.
Shorten will not lead Labor into government. Nevertheless, he is arguably the most important political figure of the past six years.
Without his ideas - the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the banking royal commission and superannuation reform - the government's threadbare achievements would be even thinner.
Morrison has perfected the art of sidling through the spotlight without saying anything at all. I am shocked that it has worked for him.
I am not convinced it can work for three more years, though obviously I've been wrong before. But both sides should remember the comparisons that are being made.
And 1993 and 2004 seemed bitter defeats at the time. In both cases, victory was only three years away.
- Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.