Like a doomsday cult after the much-anticipated end of the world has failed to come, Conservatives today are feeling dispirited and confused, wondering whether they've been deceived or just made an error in their calculations.
There will be calls for Stephen Harper's resignation, as there were after victory eluded the party in 2004. We will be told once again that we must move to the amorphous centre, that we must follow an unchartable course of indeterminate moderation, that we must silence one group or another, if we are to win the confidence of the electorate at large.
Our lesser sins will be magnified, that the government may be absolved of its greater sins.
However, we should not fall into despair at last night's unfortunate result.
The Liberal government will survive for a while longer, but at the price of its last remaining shreds of credibility.
Its wild spending spree has led it to forfeit its claims to responsible management of the public treasury. Its defiance of parliamentary and constitutional convention manifest its contempt for the rule of law and the democratic process.
The continuing revelations from the Gomery inquiry will underscore its growing reputation for corruption and dishonesty, as well as undermining its claims to being the one party that can assure national unity.
For all of the advantages that the powers of government offer the Liberals, they survived only by the grace and favour of the Speaker of the House and a few unpredictable independent MP's.
When the next crisis of confidence strikes, the Liberals will have much less to offer to a less pliable opposition.
The end did not come yesterday. But it cannot be prevented, only delayed.