In his concession speech, closing his divisive and accomplished political career, former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott observed the Liberals were doing better in working-class areas, and less well in wealthy seats.
Then, speaking to the profound impact of climate policy on the election, he said Liberals were in trouble when climate change is a moral issue, but they win when it's an economic issue.
In Queensland, voters were alarmed at the prospect of a ban on coal exports and job losses and turned their backs on Labor.
Abbott's insight spoke to a seismic change in working-class voting patterns in liberal democracies. It's a change that is being missed by conventional analyses that focus on tactics.
For example, the ABC summarised a consensus that Labor made itself a "big target" by going into the campaign with bold, detailed policies on tax and climate.
"It was crazy brave, breaking the orthodoxy that oppositions should slide into government without taking big policy risks."
Policies "which had identifiable and quantifiable losers", combined with a leader who could never get the public to like him, doomed Labor.
As in the UK, the US and Europe, Australia has found right-wing parties can be more effective at connecting with working-class voters.
These explanations have the smell of rationalisation after the fact.
If it is so clear the week after the vote that strong policies lose elections, why was it not clear the week before when forecasters predicted Labor would win?
I heard rumours during the campaign from ALP contacts who believed a hung parliament was more likely than a Labor win. With the benefit of hindsight, warning lights were flashing on the doorsteps.
The voters were not telling Labor to be more beige.
They were asking to be heard.
Nigel Farage in the UK has an utterly bold and transformational message: leave the EU without a deal.
It has propelled his new party to more polling support than UK Labour and the Conservatives combined.
Donald Trump did not lack for a bold message in 2016. Transformational plans do not stop parties winning elections. Detailed "terms and conditions" in policy documents might make winning harder. But as New Zealand Labour has discovered, the absence of them makes governing awkward, just as Brexiteers in the UK discovered after they won the referendum without a plan that there was insurmountable devil in the detail.
Bill Shorten's plan to double capital gains tax in Australia will persuade some people that New Zealand Labour was right to drop the CGT here.
But exit polls showed it was a long way down the list of voters concerns, behind health care, climate and leadership.
Bill Shorten was not popular, yet Scott Morrison also doesn't sparkle with Obama-grade charisma.
A tougher explanation for Labor's failure to prevent a chaotic, divided government winning a third term is some realignment of voting support is going on.
In the UK, the people I went to school with in a working-class rural area continue to support Brexit. Family in Wales are more pro-Brexit than ever. People I went to university with have doubled down on their anti-Brexit views. Two-thirds of UK voters now identify more strongly with their position on Brexit than with any political party.
Clearly boldness and mission matter more than ever.
In the US, working-class family friends in Georgia suburbs voted for Donald Trump. University-educated friends in urban Atlanta voted for Hillary.
In much of Europe, illiberal anti-immigration parties promise bold redistribution, a well-funded welfare system, and attract their strongest support from working-class voters who used to vote for the parties that were formed to represent them.
Working people struggling up the hill didn't vote Liberal because Bill Shorten had ideas that were too bold. It was that his bold ideas were not their priorities.
If we learn anything from the rise of populism globally, it's that courage and clarity of purpose are attracting support. But - as in the UK, the US and Europe - Australia has found right-wing parties can be more effective at connecting with working-class voters.
The centre-left everywhere is being wedged between working-class and suburban voters focused on their incomes, their community, their services; and more urban and educated voters concerned with social liberalism, climate and correct use of language.
Australian Labor pledged to govern for all of the above, for both the inner city and the outer suburbs. Its failure to win on that package, in highly favourable conditions, will cause a massive re-think.
If a realignment is under way, as Tony Abbott claimed, then Saturday's election result foreshadowed a future in which parties will wrestle over who is the best representative of working people, or Labour parties will try to assemble winning coalitions without working-class votes.
The implications are profound.
• Political commentator Josie Pagani is a director of the Council for International Development, an umbrella organisation for New Zealand's international non-government organisations.