They reconvened on Tuesday, but the election results presented a new set of problems. Republican officials familiar with the talks say Democrats dug in on demands for tax revenue that Republicans are not willing to meet. Democratic aides say Republicans who had spoken abstractly about the need for more revenues are balking at the specifics.

“Things change. It’s not just a matter of the numbers changing, and they do,” Mr. Durbin said of shifting deficit projections, revenue forecasts and spending totals. “It’s also a matter of the political environment, and the landscape changing.”

Democrats freely admit they have shifted their stance from the defensive crouch of the summer of 2011, when they signed on to a budget deal that cut $1 trillion in spending with no tax increases, to now, when they believe the voters have given them a mandate to raise taxes on the affluent…

Both sides insist they want a deal before January, but a rising chorus of voices, especially Democrats, say they would rather go over the cliff than accept a deal that raised too few taxes while extracting too many cuts, especially to Medicare and Medicaid.