By Anthony Murnane, Deputy Foreign Editor, who is en route to Washington DC to help cover the US elections for RTÉ News special programmes output. In his first blog, he wonders what mood awaits him in the US.

At immigration clearance in Dublin Airport a photo of President Barack Obama looks down over the US officers checking travellers’ passports, visas and immigration forms.

Making this journey four years ago it was a photo of President George W Bush that was in that frame. His presidency was in its dying days. His Republican administration had left a disenchanted electorate eager for change.

Arriving in Washington back then there was a palpable desire for something new. Street vendors sold Obama/Biden badges and T-shirts, baseball caps and even toys.

On election day the queues to vote stretched around the street corners from early morning. People who had never voted before came out to cast their ballot for a politician from Chicago who promised change and so much more.

He convincingly defeated his Republican rival John McCain, but now four years later it is Barack Obama who is under pressure.

Opinion polls reflect how close this vote is likely to be. Obama and Mitt Romney are neck and neck with only hours to go. There is widespread unhappiness with the Obama administration. It centres on the economy highlighted by the 8% unemployment rate but those seeking an alternative will point to the failure to close Guantanamo Bay, inactivity in the Middle East and an awaited troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This election night will be a very different event to four years ago. The expectation is the result will be far from clear cut and it could be well into Wednesday morning at the earliest before we find out whether its President Obama for a second term or President Romney reclaiming the White House for the Republicans.