The art of politics is about assessing the risks and rewards of different strategies. Take one path, and you forgo another, potentially delivering opportunities to your opponents.
The more nuanced part of that art is assessing not just the immediate circumstances, the votes, for instance, you're after today, but the votes you hope to win in the future.
Let's look at the momentous 2020 election through that lens.
Firstly, Labour. The Government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the personal charisma and intelligence of Jacinda Ardern was a huge factor, undoubtedly.
There's more to it though. Despite the issues they've had in government, Labour at least acknowledges the concerns of younger voters. That's in contrast to National in 2017 and again this time. More about that later.
Labour received many votes from under-30s on Saturday. The way the party presents itself, the way the Prime Minister behaves and articulates herself, appeals to younger voters, particularly women.
A strategy of appealing to the concerns of our young people (and the "youth adjacent") is core to Labour's identity.
It will always try to align itself with younger generations. And when they vote, like they seem to have done in big numbers this election, then Labour (and the Greens) will benefit.
Of course, appealing to younger generations— through style (presentation) and substance (policy) — can leave room to other parties to appeal to older generations.
That's where Labour's other strategy, specific to this election, delivered such good results. Stressing their handling of Covid-19 brought many older voters to the party, perhaps for the first time.
I don't think it's true that hordes of National supporters switched to Labour purely to keep the Greens out. A small number, maybe. The more likely scenario is that many switched to Labour as a genuine endorsement of the Prime Minister's leadership through a global pandemic.
Taking a very centrist manifesto into the election, particularly on tax, also reaped rewards.
Labour's strategies for this election were deployed with an eye to the future.
With the collapse of NZ First's vote and National floundering, Labour set out to own the centre. They will set up camp there for multiple elections.
This move to the centre gave the Greens the lifeline they needed. A different strategy from Labour could have been disastrous for the Greens. Labour stayed off Green Party turf, to the benefit of both parties.
Going forward, there's now a huge opportunity for the Greens to attract left-leaning voters, while continuing their role as a policy generator.
An avowedly centrist Labour should see the Greens looking at 10 per cent of the vote in 2023.
For National, the immediate road back to power looks difficult. They will have to recognise that the past isn't the future.
National must reduce its reliance on the conservative vote of property-owning, generally older New Zealanders. It's a voter base that isn't growing.
National will need to make policy concessions to young people. Which means getting serious about climate change, public transport, and housing affordability, and maybe even moderating its go-to-policy of tax cuts for the well-off. The wealth gap is too large in New Zealand, and younger voters know this.
And they have to adjust to what Ardern has achieved. She has managed to neutralise the seed of Trumpism in New Zealand.
The Prime Minister's message of compassion and cultural inclusion has been powerfully transformative, even though tax policy, housing policy and economic policy hasn't been.
Ardern's style of politics that National ignores at its peril.
National, in effect, has to look and talk a lot more like Labour, and hope for a charismatic cross-over leader who embodies the shifting values of Aotearoa New Zealand.
An alternative, which some in the party might favour, is to play the ugly blame game. This is the heart of Trumpism, blaming others (often minorities) without offering any solutions to the problems of ordinary people.
There are votes to be had from going down that path — but enough to return National to power under MMP? I don't think so.
National could do themselves, and the whole country, a favour, and categorically reject the politics of blame.
The wrong strategy choices now could precipitate a serious and lasting decline in National's fortunes.
It's not a given that they'll be back.
• Northern Advocate columnist Vaughan Gunson writes about life and politics.