Four years ago the Liberals won 19% of the vote and 34 seats – the fewest in the party’s history.
The party started this election campaign – Canada’s longest since 1872 – in third place in the polls behind both Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Tom Mulcair.
On Monday, prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau’s party won 184 seats with 39.5% of the vote.
The result was the greatest political comeback in Canadian history.
The Liberal party – victor of many federal elections past – had been humbled badly in the last election. For many partisans the choice of young relatively inexperienced Trudeau to lead the party felt risky – but no other choice felt less risky.
In his earliest months as Liberal leader Trudeau’s popularity spiked upwards. It was more an indication that people were open to him rather than an endorsement of his ideas or a movement to firmly align with the Liberal brand.
But within a few months his opponents began working his gaffes and weaknesses and doubled Trudeau’s negatives.
He entered the campaign with his back against the wall – third in the polls and with plenty of public scepticism about whether he was up to the job.
With less than a week to go Trudeau has a pretty good chance of winning this election.
He built a platform better tuned to mainstream voters.
He outflanked his left-side opponents – promising to hike taxes on millionaires and deliver more money to the middle class and poorer families.
His opponents expected to embarrass him in TV debates only to have him thrive and improve with each outing.
His advertising campaign was clever and at times unconventional with Trudeau acknowledging ‘they say I’m not ready’ and then turning the argument around on his critics.