After watching both parties spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a lengthy and fiery campaign, the voters left no clear path forward by keeping control of the Congress divided on Tuesday, as both sides started maneuvering for advantage on how best to deal with looming decisions on taxes and spending.
"I want to work together," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who will have at least two more Democrats on his side when the new Senate takes office in January.
Reid said that outcome, plus small gains for Democrats in the House - and the re-election of President Obama - should mean one thing; that the Republicans should be the ones compromising on the Bush tax cuts and more.
"The Republicans have to make a choice," Reid told reporters at a U.S. Capitol news conference, as Reid said "there was a message sent" by the voters about a desire for higher taxes on the wealthy.
Not surprisingly, that idea doesn't wash with Republicans, especially many in the House who want no part of any budget deal that includes allowing some of the Bush tax cuts to expire.
"Our commitment in the House to averting these cliffs and resisting job-killing tax increases has been unmistakable, which is why our majority has been reaffirmed by the American people," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
Translated - many Republicans want no part of any higher taxes.
But at the top, Speaker John Boehner seemed to open the door to that, as long as it is part of a broader plan of tax reform.
"We’re closer than we think to the critical mass needed legislatively to get tax reform done," Boehner said a few hours after Reid spoke.
Boehner though again said he wants one dollar in budget cuts for every dollar in new tax revenues coming in, a haunting reminder for Republicans of how past bipartisan deals always seem to come through on the tax increases, but rarely the budget cutbacks.
The clock is ticking, since $110 billion in automatic budget cuts kick in at the start of January, which is also when the Bush tax rates are set to expire.