The electoral map, the demographics behind President Barack Obama's re-election and the high-end tax increases that were just wrung from the Republicans give Democrats reason to believe that long-term political trends are on their side in budget negotiations.
This view ignores what is happening at the state level.
The fiscal outlook for many states is unsustainable.
This eventually may influence the politics of the national budget, both directly (through battles over federal measures to help troubled states) and indirectly (through voters' attitudes toward government).
It may take a decade or more for this dynamic to take hold, but as leaders of both parties bargain over the debt ceiling and assess their strategies for deficit talks, they should also think about the path of state finances.
The prospects should unnerve Democrats, in particular:
The 26 states that Obama carried in November tended overwhelmingly to have lower credit ratings than the 24 where he lost.
The most obvious examples are California and Illinois, two big states that are deep blue politically and deep in the red fiscally.
The pattern holds much more broadly across the states that broke for Obama rather than Republican Mitt Romney.
To see this, imagine an electoral college in which each state's worth, rather than being dependent on its population, was instead determined by the soundness of its Standard & Poor's credit rating.
For easy comparison, the 50 states in this make-believe electoral college could be assigned a cumulative 538 points, equal to the total number of votes in its real-world counterpart.
The 13 states with the highest rating, AAA, would get 15 points each, for example; those with the next best rating (AA+) would get 12 points each, and so on.
Using this system, the states that Romney won would be sufficient to give him a strong victory in this imaginary electoral college: 278 to 260.
A simpler system, which assigned each state from zero to five points depending on which of six S&P buckets it fell in, would also give a solid victory to Romney, 94 to 88.
It would appear that Obama, who won handily in both popular and electoral votes, did so largely by carrying states that are more poorly governed fiscally.
To see the pattern another way, consider the type of state where each candidate racked up points in the real Electoral College.
Romney got 73 percent of his electoral votes from 16 states that have either AAA or AA+ ratings from S&P.
Obama received only 39 percent of his electoral votes from states with the two highest ratings, and those included swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
Instead, the bulk of the president's electoral support - 61 percent - came from 14 financially weak states. These states had credit ratings of AA or below, and he won 13 of the 14 by at least five percentage points.