More brutal Republican critics blamed Mitt Romney for his own loss, describing him as bland, with no clear message Photograph: David Goldman/AP
Recriminations were flying in Republican circles on Thursday as Mitt Romney wound up his campaign, thanking donors and staff, after his defeat at the polls on Tuesday.
His Boston headquarters and field offices across the country were being cleared and an office in Washington where preparations had been under way to prepare for transition to the White House if he had won was ordered to be cleared by Friday.
The security detail that followed him around for months has been withdrawn and his codename Javelin has been de-activated.
The Boston Globe disclosed that Romney had planned to celebrate a win over Obama on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning with an eight-minute fireworks display over Boston harbour.
Instead, after Romney conceded, the fireworks were unloaded from barges and taken back to the organising company's store in New Hampshire.
In Boston, Romney met some of his wealthiest donors on Wednesday, both to thank them but also to offer an analysis of what had gone wrong.
Some of his staff as well as Republicans outside his immediate campaign circle offered a range of explanations. One of the commonest was that Romney had lost vital campaign days last week because of hurricane Sandy.
More brutal Republican critics blamed the candidate, describing him as bland, with no clear message. Others said that the Romney organisation fell far short of the superior Obama one in identifying and getting out voters.
With the result in Florida still not declared, there is no final figure for the share of the popular vote. But it is unlikely to change significantly from Obama with Obama on 51% – down from 53% in 2008 – to Romney's 48%.
In spite of more than $1bn spent by Romney and his supporters and fighting an incumbent presiding over high unemployment, Romney only managed to improve by two percentage points on the 2008 Republican challenger John McCain.
An conservative commentator who enjoys a large following, Erick Erickson, founder of the conservative blog RedState, described Romney's approach to Latinos as atrocious.
"Frankly, the fastest-growing demographic in America isn't going to vote for a party that sounds like that party hates brown people," Erickson said.
One of the targets for conservative ire was George W Bush's former strategist, Karl Rove, co-founder of Crossroads, one of the biggestSuper Pacs that raised hundreds of millions for the campaign, much of it from rich donors.
The Huffington Post quoted a Republican saying: "The billionaire donors I hear are livid. There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do … I don't know how you tell your donors that we spent $390m and got nothing."
In the first sign of Republicans already looking beyond this election to 2016, senator Marco Rubio, already touted as the front-runner, announced he is to hold a meeting next week in Iowa, whose caucus normally marks the start of the nomination process.
Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, said the Republicans had "painted themselves out of the mainstream". He said: "The Republican party is going to have some soul-searching to do: whether they are going to represent the United States of America as it is and not based on some 50-year-old model."
He had found heartening that the super-PACs had not had much impact. "You can't buy the White House. You can't overwhelm Congress with this money," he said. In a swipe directly at the co-founder of the Crossroads super-PAC, Karl Rove, he said that if he had been one of the donors to Crossroads, he would be asking what happened. "They did not get much for their money."