Simon Bridges was not a popular leader. Not at the end, and not at the start.
Even when he won a resounding victory 27 months ago against some serious high-flyers in the National Party, including Steven Joyce and Amy Adams, he wasn't given much credit for the achievement.
So why did he get it in the first place and why did he fail in the end, losing a challenge today from Todd Muller?
Bridges has always been ambitious, confident and not one to express a jot of self-doubt.
And he has been a fighter to the end. It has been his most enduring quality, even if he has not always known there is a time not to fight.
He had planned his bid for the leadership for years, courting backbenchers over 10 years who would give him their loyalty.
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The fact there was a field of five in February 2018 when Bill English stepped down helped Bridges to win.
The others, besides Judith Collins, had never really planned for it the way he had.
Those who weren't loyal to Bridges scattered their support among the others and he came very close to winning the leadership on the first ballot.
It was a proud moment for Bridges who was just 41 at the time, married to Natalie whom he had met at Oxford University, and father of three.
He had had a dress rehearsal in 2016 contesting Paula Bennett for the deputy leadership after Bill English had taken over from John Key. But that was just to let his colleagues know he was serious about becoming leader one day.
He was the first Maori MP to win the leadership of National or Labour, and with Paula Bennett as his deputy made the first leadership team of Maori heritage.
He became MP for Tauranga in 2008 where he had been a Crown prosecutor. Within four years he had become a minister and within 10 years he was leader.
He has never depended on influential political patrons, as some MPs have, and has relied more on his own wits, ambition and rat-cunning.
Getting the leadership was the easy part. Maintaining it has proved impossible.
The courtship of the backbench did not continue into his leadership.
Having himself felt excluded from the triumvirate in Government, Key, English and Joyce, he did not do things very differently in Opposition.
He was considered to have become too reliant on a small group including Todd McClay, Paul Goldsmith and Michael Woodhouse who told him what he wanted to hear.
He did not receive alternative advice well and saw it as criticism.
He withstood crushing criticism during his tenure and appeared largely unaffected by it publicly but privately he does not accept criticism well.
Just ask journalists who have been on the receiving end of unpleasant notes.
Public critcism began with his accent, a pronounced Kiwi drawl, and extended to the types of issues he chose to highlight – slushie machines in prison for example - and continued to the end when he engaged in a bit of banter with a TV host over the Prime Minister's partner dying her hair and was pilloried for it.
The first year of his leadership was plagued by the Jami-lee Ross crisis, precipitated by the leak of Bridges' expenses to media.
Bridges suspected it was a colleague and commissioned a report which all but confirmed it. His former loyalist was expelled.
Bridges could have ignored the leak and hoped the problem would go away. He confronted it and apparently never regretted doing so. He made bold calls and always backed himself, even when colleagues didn't.
There were grumblings about his leadership and minor rumblings in 2019 but, until now, his unpopularity among voters or the caucus was not reason to ditch him.
He kept the party vote relatively high for an Opposition party up against a popular prime minister.
The high point of his leadership, from an Opposition point of view, was the "leak" of the 2019 Wellbeing Budget by a simple search on the Treasury website and the weeks of trouble that caused for the Government.
His worse times, as Opposition leader, were those periods of complete irrelevancy: the Christchurch massacre and the Covid-19 crisis.
It was a political coup for National in establishing the Epidemic Response Committee and Bridges ran it well.
Bridges did not seem to realise that the old rules did not apply and that the "war" on the virus was being treated like an act of patriotism. The national psyche changed.
Bridges' criticism of the lockdown or of the Prime Minister or, God forbid, the director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, required a deftness he did not possess.
Jacinda Ardern's popularity soared during the health crisis and National's support plunged to unthinkable levels, last night's poll putting it into the 20s.
In the end, a majority of the 55 equally ambitious and restless MPs lost faith in his ability to recover the party's support in time to save their skins.