True, Tuesday's odd-year elections are more like reading a Rorschach test than observing a credible trend. True, the conclusions reached are based more upon the observer's partisanship than the ballot box.
Also true: Voters remain in a foul mood, tired of the status quo.
Democrats lost two gubernatorial races in states that voted for President Obama last year. As in years past, voters in Virginia and New Jersey once again declared their independence from the party holding the White House and backed the candidates of the minority party. And for good reason.
As revealed in exit polls, voters in both gubernatorial elections said how they cast their votes had nothing to do with President Obama. The most important issue was the state of the overall economy — said 89 percent of New Jersey voters and 85 percent of Virginia voters — and the Republicans got the message and promised to deliver results.
They had better deliver, too. These voters are highly motivated.
Don't tell voters the country is out of a recession. Don't try to sell them that a surge on Wall Street will lift folks up on Main Street. They voted out of office a politician in New Jersey whom they believed was out of touch, and they failed to back one in Virginia whom they found clueless.
Independent voters, the growing segment of the electorate, shifted their allegiance from Democrats, whom they fancied in 2005, 2006 and 2008, and gave the Republicans some love — for the moment.
Increasingly, Independents will determine the outcome of every election in this country. Both major parties need to wake up to this fact and reform their insular ways.
Democrats and Republicans need to understand that these voters don't care who created the economic mess that has taken away jobs and caused many Americans to file personal bankruptcy. They fired Republicans in 2006 and 2008, and if Democrats don't listen, they will angrily send some of them a pink slip in 2010.
All voters — regardless of their affiliation or lack thereof — want common-sense solutions and fiscal discipline — not more partisanship, or worse: gamesmanship or obstructionists that employ mere delay tactics. "Just say no" is a crafty slogan, but it's doesn't preserve or create jobs.
These voters are paying close attention. Republicans ought not celebrate too soon. This is not 1994, when the GOP benefited greatly from Democrats stumbling their way through former President Bill Clinton's first year in office. Democrats on the Hill were worn out and tired. Republicans put forward some bold plans and sold them to the American people.
And then they lost their way. When they controlled the White House, they became tired and arrogant.
Today's Democrats are moving too swiftly on some many fronts like passing health care, climate change and other important issues that while important, voters need to know how this will help create jobs and save them money. Party leaders need to focus like a laser beam on what matters most to Americans: jobs, jobs, jobs.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele believes the party is in the process of entering into a renaissance. Given the growing divisions within his ranks and the great divide splitting moderates and conservatives because of a weird ideological purity test, Steele should steel himself for his party entering the Dark Ages. Remember: jobs, jobs, jobs.
Both major political parties and the folks running things in Washington need to get busy. Obama must lead the way and continue to look for bipartisan solutions. Yes, it's hard work, but that is why we pay folks in D.C. a decent salary. Some of them owe us a refund. But we're just looking for real leaders right about now.
Someone who will say to voters: "We are planning to recover your tax dollars we spent bailing out Wall Street and others and start paying down the deficit. It's your children's money we will start protecting."
Someone who will stand up against corporate greed, congressional earmarks, pork-barrel spending, and the waste, fraud and abuse found in every federal agency. Someone who will save our money by being prudent with our tax dollars.
Of course, leadership starts at the top, but change starts with us.
As we close the book on this odd political season, let us all remember the following lessons.
One, campaigns count. The two GOP gubernatorial candidates, Rob McDonnell and Christopher Christie, ran solid races that focused on local issues that people cared about.
Two, voters are serious about change and are looking closely to decide who will best deliver it. During the midterm election, they will reward those who can deliver and fire those who can't or won't.
Donna Brazile is a political commentator on CNN, ABC and NPR; contributing columnist to Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill; and former campaign manager for Al Gore.