There's a phenomenon in sport: that when you streak into a lead, the size of that lead can play on your mind. It's usually aggressive play that establishes the leader of the pack - but once established, there's often a switch in mindset.
Now the team, or the player, starts to think about protecting their lead. They change how they play. They might even see their lead falter - and that can cause them to panic, sometimes ultimately losing the match itself.
There was no sign last week that Leo Varadkar's sizeable lead was making him question his own instincts. His campaign on welfare fraud is thought to have gone down well within Fine Gael. His announcements all week showed him going for the soul of Fine Gael. Given that he could have instead played it safe, it probably means we're seeing the real Leo Varadkar.
With Leo Varadkar having secured a near majority of the electoral college votes through the Fine Gael parliamentary party alone, Simon Coveney was thought to be considering pulling out of the race last weekend.
Varadkar was hardly too disappointed Coveney chose to fight on. It would have taken something from the legitimacy of the contest if the Fine Gael members didn't get their say.
Leo, as he's branded himself, spent last week offering typically professional documents on how to reorganise Fine Gael, and on policy priorities for a party and government led by him.
Most of the policy priorities were vanilla flavoured. No one could object to a patient-centred health system - he dodged the question of how to get there.
But in other areas he played aggressively to the heart of Fine Gael. He spoke of banning strike action in essential public services. This might ensure he wins the party leadership but it leaves hostages to fortune at the next general election.
The Fine Gael leadership election is like a primary. Leo and Simon are competing to be the party's candidate for Taoiseach, to face Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail's candidate.
This suits both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The next election is likely to be about who you want to lead the country. Assuming that Sinn Fein hasn't been able to remove its paleo-nationalist leader, it won't be featuring in that debate. So it will be the Micheal vs Leo or Simon show. That's what the two main parties will focus on, that's what the media will focus on, and that's what the voters will use to make the decision on how to cast their ballot.
When you're in a primary battle, you must make a play for the party's core support. In doing so, you say things that you hope will win them over. But elections aren't won in the party members' hearts. Of course you need to keep the core support with you, but they're usually loyal.
To win a general election you must tack back to the centre, because that's where the voters are.
One important law in politics is the median voter theorem. It's the idea that the party or candidate that represents the median or middle voter should gain a majority in an election. It works best in majoritarian systems like the US or the UK, but the basic idea holds in Ireland.
If you are a big party that can compete with any other on competence, on being the party of government, then shifting away from the centre is neither necessary nor profitable. Irish voters are centrist. They don't like ideology. They like the State to do good, but they don't favour more taxes.
They don't like it when people play the system. But neither do they want the State to abandon people - and they aren't usually attracted to what are, or what can be portrayed as, uncaring policies.
Look at every big, successful political movement and you'll see it makes appeals to the centre. Tony Blair created a majority by offering Tory policies with a more caring face. Angela Merkel, though nominally on the right, has dominated German politics through cautious centrist policies, not ideological politics. French president Emmanuel Macron won handsomely by appealing to the centre ground.
The real political genius is the one who can shift the centre ground to their position. Thatcher - obviously an ideologue - did this by making the working class identify as middle class through the sale of council houses.
Varadkar has made a big play of being neither left nor right. He's compared himself to Macron. But Macron offered centrist policies that would appeal to both moderates in the Socialist party and could take votes from Les Republicains on the right.
Fine Gael lost 250,000 votes at the 2016 election. They were lost to the centre. It seems perverse to expect the party can recover them by moving to the right, where the party has no competition.
According to polls, Varadkar's policy on welfare fraud has some public support, even if he's plainly oversold the policy as some panacea for Ireland's budget deficit. But I wonder has he focus-grouped ideas like the removing the right to strike?
As a policy, it is easy to condemn and requires too much nuance to explain and defend. It doesn't look like a policy that you'd base an election on.
Even if these policies have some support, he's leaving himself open to Fianna Fail presenting him as "Vrad the Impaler", an uncaring ideologue, and Fine Gael as a party of the privileged. This may be an unfair characterisation - but it doesn't matter. Varadkar is making the stereotype plausible.
The hustings last Thursday night saw Coveney go for Varadkar. He had nothing to lose. Coveney made a bid for the centre ground. Varadkar looked a bit more like someone who knew he was way in the lead. He was cautious and at times stale.
Is he now letting that big lead play on his mind?
Eoin O'Malley is a senior lecturer in political science at DCU.