The race to the election finish line on Saturday was years in the making and entered uncharted territory when a once-in-a-century pandemic struck.
This poll took place in such extraordinary circumstances - ones that prompted about 200,000 voters to make their choice early - that the usual ways of interpreting results must make room for the realities of the coronavirus.
Labor's victory, the Greens' resounding success and the Liberals' painful defeat tell us a few things that are clear about the ACT's priorities in 2020.
But it's worth remembering that COVID-19 brings different rules governing the rise and falls of parties in politics, and casts aside other laws of political gravity.
It's with that caveat the victors, the vanquished and the pundits should begin interpreting Saturday's result.
The ACT has returned Labor to a sixth consecutive term in government that will extend its time in power to 23 years. The party's results arguably bear the broadest scope for differing interpretations.
Victors inside the ALP will take as expansive a view of their mandate as they can. In truth, the endorsement it's won from Canberrans is clear, but not exactly emphatic. There was barely a swing for or against the party (-0.2 per cent as of Sunday). Voters, taken all together across the ACT, were ultimately neither more nor less supportive of Labor than in 2016.
The result is undeniably a failure for the Canberra Liberals. As of Sunday afternoon, the party's tally of seats was eight and it suffered a swing of negative 3.4 per cent. Not only did it fail to pick up the extra seats it targeted in Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi, but it ceded ground in Brindabella. Ultimately the Canberra Liberals didn't convince the ACT they would form the better government.
It might be true that COVID-19's laws of politics turned the baggage of 19 years' incumbency into an electoral boon for Labor. Liberals were suggesting as much on election night. But such a view, taken alone, ignores the fact that incumbency is a two-edged sword in the coronavirus. Labor's successful handling of COVID-19 in the ACT probably influenced the election results; the same would be true if it had seriously misstepped.
Such thinking also does too much to exonerate the Liberals and glosses over the kinds of questions they must begin asking themselves in coming weeks and months.
Can Alistair Coe performance justify another four years for him as leader? The results as they stand make that hard. But the lack of a clear successor complicates the question further. The Liberals also need to consider whether their campaign was suited to Canberra. The Boris Johnson-style stunts made Mr Coe look clownish at a time when the mood and circumstances clearly favoured serious leaders. His failure to answer questions directly - including the most important, about funding for campaign promises - was a bad hit to his credibility.
In these ways, the Liberals proved tone deaf for a party that claimed to be so in touch with people's concerns. If parties learn one thing from the 2020 election, it's that Canberrans are discerning and exacting as voters.
Finally, the Canberra Liberals will have to decide whether the brand of conservatism the party has promoted since 2016 fits in the progressive ACT, especially in a time when COVID-19 has forced conservatives to jettison so much of their ideology.
That progressive streak was on show in a 3.4 per cent swing to the Greens, who were on track on Sunday to win at least four seats. Their success in the inner-city electorate of Kurrajong was perhaps unsurprising, but the inroads they made in Brindabella and other electorates could reflect that, following a summer of bushfires and smoke haze, climate change has more influence on the votes of Canberrans living in the outer suburbs. Certainly the Greens come away major winners from Saturday night.
The swing in Brindabella was even greater to Labor. Such results speak volumes, but it's doubtful that anyone yet knows exactly what they say. Let the commentary begin.