While President Barack Obama paved his path to re-election with fewer promises than in 2008, the ones he did lay down are extraordinarily difficult to achieve in a time of gridlock grief and tight budgets.
He's promised to overhaul immigration law, to set a course in law against global warming, stop Iran from gaining the ability to make nuclear weapons, slash America's use of foreign oil, restrain college costs, and take a big bite out of the national debt even while protecting the heart of the big entitlement programs.
He's promised to make health insurance not only universally accessible, but "affordable," through a 2010 health care law that is finally entering prime time and will soon be tested.
It's a sure bet that many who voted Republican want some of Obama's promises to fail. They didn't sign up for tax increases on the wealthy or a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
But as closely divided as the country is, most Americans support Obama's ends, if not the means. Who doesn't want a lighter national debt or better health care for less?
In that sense, everyone's got a stake in seeing him make good on his broad-brush promises.
Whatever a candidate's promises, legacies are made by how a president manages matters of war and peace, economic growth and weakness, social change and traditional values, and whatever crises come out of the blue.
If this decade somehow becomes the Roaring Teens, history may not care much about a big broken promise or two. If jobs are demolished, that's what will be remembered, not that 9 out of 10 promises might have been kept.
But Obama made a pact with voters, not historians, and he's got IOUs outstanding.
Republican lawmakers do, too.
They don't inherit the promises of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and did not campaign with one voice. But they presented themselves unmistakably as the party of smaller government, low taxes, a strong military capability and fiscal restraint. They have to answer to voters in 2014 for what they deliver and fail to do.
So must Democrats.
Voters can't throw Obama out of office if he botches his job this term. But the president still has skin in the game.
With a chunk of the Senate and all of the House up for grabs in 2014, Obama would have an easier time making good on his promises if Democrats were able to hang on to the Senate, win back control of the House or both. That's a tall order, given that the party holding the White House historically has lost seats in the sixth year of a presidency.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.