But in the U.S. Senate, which confirms Supreme Court justices, voters gave Democrats the majority - 53-45. Democrats gained two seats and Republicans lost two.
This is a recipe for continued paralysis, of course - neither "Forward!" into a socialist workers paradise nor forward to a healthy economy.
It's clear that Americans themselves don't know what to do about their weakened, debt-ridden nation.
So it's up to Obama to lead. He wanted the power to do so and he got it.
Now he has the responsibility for what happens - and no excuse for failure. He can't blame the next four years on the George W. Bush administration.
The president has promised bold moves. Having taken over a sixth of the economy in his first term, he should be taken at his word.
He's home free. He won't have to face voters again. Rank-and-file Democrats will, of course.
It might be wise to exercise more independence than many have shown so far. His legacy, after all, will be theirs as well.