Romney falls short and the Republicans begin the inquest

The dream died more quickly than anyone expected.

Mitt Romney's campaign had dared to believe he could snatch it. He failed.

And he failed more dramatically than anyone had predicted.

Yes, it seemed close for a while. But as the exit polling poured in and crucial states began to slide towards Obama or stick, stubbornly for Romney, at a tie, it was clear the Republican was not on a roll.

The real crack in the Red wall was New Hampshire. Romney had such high hopes of taking it; he had invested a lot in the state where he announced his candidacy eighteen months ago.

When it went for Obama, there were groans at his campaign headquarters.

Just under two hours later, it got so much worse. The conservative Television network Fox, broadcasting to the headquarters, projected that Barack Obama would be re-elected.

"Oh my God" said one woman beside me. Another put her head in her hands. There were tears. There was disbelief. They really had believed. "Believe" was the word written across the stage where, more than an hour later, Mitt Romney arrived to conceded defeat.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gives his concession speech Credit: Reuters

Three times the Romneys - father and son - have tried to win the Presidency. Three times they have failed.

Now, for the Republican party, comes the inquest.