So that was the Labour leadership election, 2010. As the deadline for new members to join and get a vote ticks past as I blog, the campaign is pretty much over. In an echo of Labour's great 1945 landslide, most of what now remains is a three-week wait for the results.
Sure, votes can be cast for another fortnight. Not all of the ballot papers have reached everybody yet. I've had my Fabian ballot - with a Dear Mr Katwala letter from myself - but not my party one yet. No doubt, some voters may remain torn between candidates to the last moment, particularly on 2nd and 3rd preferences. But its very hard for the campaigns to identify and reach them specifically. And nobody could seriously claim that the three-month campaign hasn't given them a pretty full chance to come to a conclusion.
So what do the leadership campaigns do now? Do those emails, text messages and phone calls keep going to the wire, or does peace now descend even upon the Labour twittersphere? It will be worth campaigns making any final intensive efforts to check on MPs whose second preferences might still be up for grabs. A get out the vote effort to persuade more affiliate voters to vote might still yield some results. They can check their pledged supporters have voted.
Remaining hustings debates could be interesting beyond the campaign where they press on specific issues - such as the Fabian Women's Network event on equality on Wednesday. Perhaps the candidates themselves can best continue the campaigns by taking the public argument to the government.
Some final-ish reflections as the fighting phase ends ...
The BBC presents ... the ghost of hustings past
Perhaps the oddest moment in this leadership campaign is yet to come, with the Question Time leadership debate on Thursday week, September 16th. In theory, the race is still on - and there are votes up for grab. Though it will have the largest public and party audience of any leadership campaign moment, in reality, the programme can make no difference at all.
(The David Cameron-David Davis Question Time bout, two weeks after the final candidates were known, took place the Thursday night, 3rd November 2005, with members' ballot papers going out two days later. Regional hustings followed. So that could have really mattered, in a close election. Question Time has come back a week early from its summer break, but the BBC schedules couldn't accomodate it even two or three weeks earlier.
Is the national television audience could be about to get an "action replay" of the hustings debates? Not even that. Surely it is now in the candidates' interest - especially whoever is going to win, but also their future collegues - to use the prime-time exposure to move on from the campaign, and to begin to unite. We can all expect a rather boring night.
Vote for who you want to
I have argued that "vote for who you want to" is the best case for preferential voting. AV should abolish the dodgy campaign bar graph. Labour members can and should vote for whoever they think the best leader will be, without having to think much about the tactics of the race.
Yet we have seen that political culture runs deep. Beyond wonky analysis of the second preference factor, it has felt very much like a first-past-the-post campaign. So momentum has mattered a lot in this election, with rival candidates fearing that polling and media coverage suggesting a two-Miliband race strengthens that into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Have those perceptions shifted not just second preferences, but first preferences too?
No candidate has tried to do anything creative with second preference deals. In truth, mutual affection/destruction pacts were always difficult, when two brothers had an easy way out of that tricky question. And tactical votes can still matter in theory. Andy Burnham should have made an audacious bid, four weeks ago, to hug David Miliband close, say he had his second preference, while arguing that MiliD's legs were going on the final lap - so that swtiching to (1) Andy Burham (2) David Miliband the best way to stop anyone else. But it wouldn't have been doing right by a mate.
Hence the ... Myth of the King-Maker
The dog that didn't bark? The kingmaker theory was massively over-sold. If Ed Balls was going to give a second preference to David Miliband with any form of endorsement to persuade others, he had to do it between August 31st and September 3rd. That never made much sense. It would have been reported and received as abandoning his own campaign just as the ballot papers hit members.
Balls is very clear in The Independent today - in an illuminating interview with Steve Richards - that there have been "no private discussions". By being punchiest on economic policy, and most effectively destructive in scrutinising a key Coalition policy, Balls has established that he will have a significant voice of his own at Labour's top table - even winning several positive notices from his harshest media critics - though his campaign has struggled to attract support in the contest itself.
My own hunch is that the race could end a lot closer than the bookies have it. We don't know about many MP second preferences. 20% of members are new to the party. The biggest unknown is how the affiliated section comes out. Nobody knows anything - or those that do aren't saying. Beyond complaints about the college's complexity, has there been even a single detailed newspaper report covering what's going on in the trade unions, and how it might affect the result? Which unions have seriously tried to mobilise, and which haven't? Are there split loyalties in some unions? How much difference do organisers on the ground think it has made? Do those Ed Miliband endorsements mean he is now doing better here than among party members? Did Blair and Mandelson hinder David Miliband here. If so, by how much?
Any serious projection of the result needs to take a view on these questions.
So, when will we find out the result
In Manchester on September 25th, of course. Yet I expect it may well be in Peter Kellner's YouGov powers to pretty much declare the result 7-10 days out. (A full projection would require some political intelligence on MP second preferences too). It is a story that The Guardian or Observer might well want to reveal, though the BBC would prefer we all hear about after their Question Time debate. Polling the affiliates section may be hazardous, given turnout factors, but perhaps it might be done on the basis of people who say they have actually cast a ballot in the election.
So the spoilsports may have it. Whatever your candidate preference, the demands of political drama may depend on hoping that any post-voting poll remains on a margin of error knife-edge. So it remains possible that - as in 1981 and 2007 - the Labour tribe could gather in Manchester still not sure of an election result, or who will be their leader that night.