Republican recriminations intensified on Thursday as the party's billionaire backers questioned how Mitt Romney had won fewer votes than John McCain in 2008 despite their lavish funding of his campaign.
As counting concluded, the Republican candidate was on course to finish with a smaller total than his predecessor after running against an president whose popularity was wavering in the midst of a jobs crisis and sluggish economic recovery.
Romney's political strategists were criticised sharply for failing to unseat Barack Obama even with funding of $1?billion (pounds 626?million) released by new political finance laws that allow greater cash support to candidates.
"I would have done certain things differently," Grant Bennett, one of Romney's closest friends, told The Daily Telegraph. "If voters had seen more of Mitt's human side, they would have found they liked him more than they thought they did. But a lot of advisers urged him to focus only on the economy."
Several Romney backers were dismayed that his advisers allowed Obama to spend the summer attacking him as a heartless plutocrat without offering their own positive portrayal.
Donald Trump, a Romney donor, criticised one of the highest-spending conservative "Super PACs", which supported Mr Romney through new laws allowing independent groups to spend unlimited money. Attacking George W Bush's former political mastermind, who now runs the Crossroads GPS Super PAC, the businessman said: "Congrats to Karl Rove on blowing $400million this cycle."
"Every race Crossroads GPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost," he added on Twitter. "What a waste of money."
T Boone Pickens, a Texas oil billionaire who hosted fundraising events for Mr Romney, said this week after the defeat and stock market falls: "You want to cut your throat. That's the way I feel today."
The election's single biggest spender, Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon, saw the $73million he gave to Romney, his former primary contender Newt Gingrich, and seven other Republicans amount to just one victory. Like Trump, he left Romney's election night event in Boston before the candidate arrived on stage to concede defeat. In a reflection of his anger, the front page of his newspaper Israel Today the following morning read: "America Chooses Socialism."
With the final votes still being counted in Florida, Romney had accrued 57.8million votes to Obama's 60.6million, amid the lowest turnout in a decade. In 2008, McCain received 59.9million votes while losing to Obama. Romney also attracted less support than John Kerry, who in 2004 received 59?million votes when he lost to Bush.
Some Romney allies said yesterday that his relentless fundraising regime ate up too much of his campaigning time and prevented him from moving into the political centre ground for fear of offending his Right-wing bankrollers. However, some of his leading donors said the candidate bore just as much responsibility as his team. "We had no message," one said. "And we gave it to the worst communicator in the world."
As the post mortem examination continued, two potential contenders for the party's 2016 presidential nomination began jostling for position. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor, struck back at complaints from Romney aides over his embrace of Mr Obama during Superstorm Sandy. "I travelled literally tens of thousands of miles for him (Romney), raised tens of millions of dollars," he said.
Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American Senator for Florida, was heading for Iowa, where the next presidential hopefuls will compete in party caucuses in January 2016, for a fundraising event for the state governor.