What's welling up in America's ruling Democrats is not yet a full-throated scream of desperation.
But as Samuel Johnson famously remarked, the prospect of being hanged in a fortnight concentrates the mind wonderfully.
For the most part, Barack Obama's supporters are still clutching the cloak, woven of equal parts optimism and moral certainty, that they wrapped around themselves four short years ago.
But the fear that their world is falling apart has begun to take hold. As it should.
Four Novembers ago, they were marching, led by the first biracial president-elect, a man who would, by his very appearance and preternaturally calming nature, restore the world's faith in America and end the hateful, paralyzing polarity into which this country had descended.
I was in Chicago's Grant Park to watch him accept the nation's resounding verdict last election night. I count it among those rare moments of history that reporters occasionally get to witness.
Barack Obama fairly glowed with an aura of triumph and generational change, and soon after would promise to preside over a great "healing."
How, then, did he arrive at the place from which he debated Monday night in the third and last of this election's televised debates?
Resorting to rehearsed zingers and smallish attacks, as the rather awkward fellow who couldn't even capture the Republican nomination four years ago sat, taciturn, across the desk, politely deflecting him?