When this general election was called back in early August, the headline for this editorial read: “Election campaigns matter, especially this one.” Now that was too long ago for most readers to remember but it turns out to have been true. Bigger isn’t always better, even in politics, and qualitative criticisms of the campaign are certainly valid, but we’ve come a long way from that August long weekend morning when Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to visit Rideau Hall weeks ahead of schedule. This campaign may have angered, inspired, thrilled, exasperated, hooked, and bored Canadians, but on voting day there’s no debating that it mattered. Polling aggregator Éric Grenier from threehundredeight.com and CBC had the NDP leading on Aug. 2 at 33.2 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 30.9 per cent, the Liberals with 25.9 per cent and the Greens at 4.7 per cent. Those numbers late last week, at press time? Well, they showed evidence of 11 weeks of managing issues and expectations, leaders’ debates, policy announcements and millions of dollars in advertising. The Conservatives trailed the Liberals, 30.4 per cent to 35.6 per cent, with the NDP down to 23.8 per cent. There was a lot of moving around in between. All three major parties were first, second, or third in the polls at some point in the campaign’s 78 days, with a long stretch where all three were locked in a statistical tie. One thing hasn’t changed, despite all the false paths voters were led down for days or weeks at a time, and that’s the ballot question. It started off being about the prime minister—specifically whether voters wanted more of him or whether they wanted change—and it looks as though no other issue has supplanted that one. But the campaign has informed that question: coloured it, in some cases sharpened it. For a few weeks, the campaign was all about Mike Duffy and the Prime Minister’s Office, where it emerged that a lot of people knew about Nigel Wright’s $90,000 payment, even if the Prime Minister didn’t. Then it was briefly about the global economy, with Asian markets in turmoil and Canada in a recession for the first half of the year. Then it was the Syrian refugee crisis and whether Canada was doing enough. Since then there have been phases devoted to candidate social media blunders, deficit spending, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and, of course, the niqab. With 78 days, there was time for everything. Or was there? “You really never get a focus on any real, particular issue and I think that’s been the nature of this campaign: that it’s kind of reacted to world events because it’s been so long,” said Abacus Data pollster David Coletto. But as the campaign meandered through these developments, the variations on the change versus status quo narrative, as Mr. Coletto put it, other policy issues that Canadians routinely say they care about most—from health care to retirement security to the environment—failed to register as defining ones. When the election was called, roughly two-thirds of voters agreed that it was time for a change. After 78 days, we’ll finally see what shape that desire takes.