The dust has settled, the final figures have been released, Hugo Chavez romped home with an 11-point majority and the pro-imperialist right is left to lick its electoral wounds.
So where does Venezuela go next and how do those defeated react?
First impressions indicate that right-wing candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski and some of his supporters actually believed their own neck-and-neck propaganda only to face the cold light of day when final results were announced so promptly by the National Electoral Council (CNE).
Chavez took 8,136,637 votes (55.25 per cent) against 6,499,575 votes (44.13 per cent) for Capriles on a turnout of 80.67 per cent.
Interestingly, the election process provides a voting card for every participating party and the candidate it is backing so that voters also indicate which party they support in casting their presidential ballot.
The vast bulk of Chavez voters (43.09 per cent) identified themselves as supporters of the president's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), while his Communist Party (PCV) allies were delighted to increase their count to 3.3 per cent.
Other left-wing parties that had fallen out with Chavez, such as Patria Para Todos and Podemos, backed him against the right, scoring 1.48 per cent and 1.05 per cent respectively.
While the left preserved its diversity in unity, traditional right-wing parties such as Accion Democratica and Copei agreed to submerge themselves in a "Unity" card, providing the largest share (14.68 per cent) of Capriles's total.
The dilemma facing the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) is how to raise the morale of its footsoldiers after missing out on its best chance yet to capitalise on Chavez's health problems, violent crime levels, popular impatience to see real change and widespread perceptions of inefficiency and corruption.
Not only did Chavez win a landslide but he carried the day in all but two states, Merida and Tachira.
Opposition-governed states Zulia, Carabobo and Capriles's own stronghold of Miranda voted for the president, prompting hope of fresh government gains in gubernatorial elections set for December 16.
Capriles, who has urged his supporters not to be despondent, confirmed on Thursday that he will seek re-election in Miranda against Chavez's former vice-president Elias Jaua.
Jaua was replaced as vice-president by Nicolas Maduro, a charismatic former bus driver who steps down as foreign minister.
Despite Capriles's efforts to encourage his coalition, despondency tinged with bitterness has been its dominant mood since its defeat, including what Chavez called an "international coalition" ranged against him.
Attempts by a couple of hundred pro-Capriles students to challenge electoral fraud by taking to the streets banging pots and pans rapidly fizzled out when MUD leaders admitted there was no basis for such a claim.
The government warned beforehand that bogus exit polls would pick Capriles as the winner, that the international media would pick up these false rumours and that efforts would be made to discredit the result.
MUD-devised "exit polls" did exactly that, global agencies ran with them, but they fell flat on their face.
The pre-election spotlight shone by international observers, including the Atlanta-based Carter Centre, on Venezuela's modern, reliable and unfixable electoral process rendered the ploy of calling foul unworkable.
Not only did MUD employ CNE to carry out its own presidential candidate selection procedure but its reputation encouraged millions of previously non-voting Venezuelans to do so, largely to the benefit of the challenger.
This hasn't prevented Capriles supporters at home and abroad from bemoaning curbs on the capacity of private media to encourage lawlessness and the requirement on private media to carry presidential statements.
"All the machinery of the state was used to try to destroy me. All sorts of things were said about me," Capriles himself complained.
This is the candidate who portrayed the president as an "accomplice" of the Farc liberation forces in neighbouring Colombia, despite Chavez calling for an end to armed struggle and working for peace talks between Farc and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos's representatives.
Capriles also accused Chavez of having chased private investors out of town just as a single US transnational, Chevron, announced plans to invest up to $20 billion in Venezuela's oil industry, to say nothing of the Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and others beating down the door to take part in joint enterprises with Venezuelan companies.
The Financial Times described Chavez's victory as "only partial" since voters "are awakening to the divisiveness and dangers of his reckless policies."
The FT declared that "already scarce" private investment was on the run, illustrating its concern by commissioning a piece by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior associate Moises Naim.
Naim lamented Venezuela's "decrepit infrastructure, declining oil production, a deeply distorted economy, dismal productivity and rampant corruption" that eluded the eight million who plumped for Chavez.
By way of background, Naim was Venezuela's minister of industry and trade in the early 1990s, responsible for the imposition of neoliberalism, doubling of fuel prices, higher public transport fares and mass impoverishment that provoked mass protests, culminating in the Caracazo massacre of 3,000 poor people in 1992.
It also paved the way for Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, so perhaps FT readers should think twice before being guided by this gentleman.
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