The next election isn't a two-horse race between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten.
It might feel like it is, given how they dominate attention and advertising.
But the main game is still 151 separate horse races, between hundreds of candidates, in the House of Representatives.
Australians often hear politics is becoming more "presidential" as voters focus on the leaders.
The recent by-elections showed that isn't necessarily the case.
Shorten isn't super-popular - the polls show people don't love him, even though Labor consistently wins the two-party preferred vote and has for years.
But it doesn't matter if Shorten is personally popular if his candidates win 76 of the available seats - the majority needed to govern.
"My candidates are more fair dinkum than their candidates, and my policies are more fair dinkum than their policies," he told reporters the day after Labor won two crucial by-elections.
The Liberals have been strangely slow to pick their candidates, while Labor has had preselections mainly locked down for a long time.
In the seat of Lindsay, which Labor holds with a margin of 1.1 per cent, no Liberal has been preselected.
That means no Liberal is out campaigning while Labor's Emma Husar is dealing with bullying allegations.
And even the unsuccessful candidates the coalition did select in Braddon and Longman were failed retreads, divisive figures due to their previous political histories.
On the policy front, Labor has successfully linked hospital and school spending with the coalition's proposed tax cuts for unpopular big banks.
Tasmanian Liberals say that message cut through in Braddon, and Queensland Liberals say the same about Longman.
The combination of fair dinkum candidates and fair dinkum policies has Shorten on a winner, even if he's not as popular as his rival.
Turnbull has more personal support than Shorten, and the economy is going well, it's true.
But in Longman, where the median income is $43,000, voters aren't all feeling the benefits of a booming economy.
They're one medical bill away from financial stress, one electricity bill away from eating packet noodles for a month.
Labor is campaigning on dealing with inequality, and it appears to be hitting home in marginal seats where economic fortunes are mixed.
The Longman result was huge. The LNP primary vote was comically low, and when Queensland swings, it swings hard.
Liberal strategist Grahame Morris said the corporate tax cut policy needs to be adjusted because it gives Shorten a hammer to belt the government with.
"It's no good being the most responsible opposition in history," he says.
Morris also says the Queensland MPs should get into a room with the prime minister and come up with a strategy.
That's already happening. The 'Team Queensland' MPs meet regularly, and they have some ideas.
They want to reframe the coalition's message. Rather than focus on "Labor's lies", they want something that appeals to Queenslanders' emotions.
Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania are key battlegrounds for marginal seats, and they are fundamentally different to Sydney and Melbourne.
Outside the capitals, they don't have the base populations of public servants who keep the economy ticking over.
Regional towns, outer suburbs, they live and die by the economy, and that includes large employers like local hospitals and schools.
The Australian economy is powering away, but not everyone is feeling the benefit.
Incoming national Labor president Wayne Swan says voters are worried about growing inequality, especially in electorates where wages are flat.
"People on $43,000 don't even qualify for the government's measly $10 (a week) tax cuts," he said this week.
"There are plenty of electorates around Australia where those median incomes are around $43,000 - just like Longman - that can be won.
"Not just from the Liberals here, but from the Nationals as well."
Turnbull is putting money back in people's pockets next year with personal tax cuts, and he's trying to ease the squeeze on power bills through the national energy guarantee.
But it simply might not be enough.
Shorten might not have the popularity, but the candidates and the policy themes are on his side.