It was time, but it was much more than that.
After 81/2 years people were sick of Colin Barnett and his government and the party had not identified a worthy replacement.
No succession plan. No success.
It left a government already on the nose with mission impossible — try to sell the smell with a bit of perfume.
Almost everywhere the Premier went on the campaign trail, his deputy Liza Harvey went, too.
But it did nothing for the Liberal primary vote, which hovered between 30 and 33 per cent during the campaign.
Compare that with the party’s 47 per cent primary in 2013 when it won a second term in government, and the strategists knew what was coming — political carnage.
The mountain Labor had to climb – needing an historic 10 extra seats to govern – was fast becoming a molehill.
But the “anyone-but-Barnett” factor was just one problem for the Liberal Party.
Its preference deal with One Nation, which was done with a pragmatic view to minimising some electoral damage, turned into a public relations disaster.
Finalised at a Saturday morning meeting of the Liberal State executive, the architects of the deal also included Federal Liberals such as Mathias Cormann.
They knew there would be some negative media commentary as the deal became public.
This was the party that vowed in the 1990s to always put One Nation last on how-to-vote cards.
But the masterminds clearly had no idea of the scale of the negativity that would follow, or how it would linger so noxiously throughout the campaign.
They should have. The amount of pre-election pantomime that pervaded Federal politics when WA One Nation senator Rod Culleton fell out with Pauline Hanson was there for all to see.
Do a deal with One Nation and its colourful cast of characters and be prepared for the consequences.
During the campaign One Nation candidates came and went before March 11, amid scandal and infighting over the preference deal.
Senator Hanson’s two most loyal lieutenants in WA even held a press conference to denounce the leader and threaten legal action after claiming they had been shoved aside.
When the senator gave Russian leader Vladimir Putin her endorsement and questioned the safety of vaccinating children, polling showed One Nation projected double-digit primary was dissolving faster than an Aspirin.
What the Liberals thought was a preferencing panacea had become a migraine.
With each One Nation circus act, Mr Barnett would be asked the same question: Why did your party do the deal?
He hated it and it started to show.
Listening to senior Liberals standing by the deal yesterday was sad.
If they can’t bring themselves to admit the One Nation deal made a bad situation worse, then the party’s election post mortem won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.
Plenty of One Nation supporters also despised the deal for a different reason. It was hypocritical to strike up a relationship with the Liberals when you were asking the public to reject them and their central policy to sell 51 per cent of Western Power.
Then you had the final obliteration of what remained of the Liberals/Nationals alliance.
Compare the Liberals mess and confusion with the straightforward Labor narrative.
No sale of Western Power, no deal with One Nation and the Perth Freight Link will not go ahead. Black and white versus opaque.
When job insecurity and unemployment were added to the murky pond, Labor had a story of hope to offer.
No matter how much the Liberal Party might have tried to convince the public of its ability to take WA forward, voters were not interested.
The Liberals’ “Yes” campaign went nowhere and Labor’s “Fresh Approach” was more appealing.
One Labor insider marked the turning tide to a single date — April 10 — when Mark McGowan unveiled the Plan for Jobs policy.
The pledge was creating 50,000 jobs in WA at a time when thousands of people were losing their own. Liberal insiders insist the biggest issue was the government’s time at the helm, but some — not all — are prepared to concede more could have been done 18 months ago to set a course for re-election.
If you know an iceberg is ahead surely you steer around it.
“There were people in the Premier’s office who were warned this was going to happen, but didn’t believe it,” one source told The West Australian.
Labor gained at least 19 seats in Saturday’s annihilation. No Liberal should be in denial now.