Compromise was a popular notion in the hours after Obama's victory and an unavoidable one, given the reality of divided government. But the familiar contours of partisan Washington were also in evidence, especially the notion that compromise means you do things my way.
As Democratic Rep. Steve Israel of New York put it, "If you refuse to compromise, we are going to beat you." Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the election showed "if you are an extremist tea party Republican, you are going to lose."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said pointedly that Republicans will meet Obama halfway "to the extent he wants to move to the political center" and propose solutions "that actually have a chance of passing."
In New York's bustling Times Square, hope, skepticism and the usual polarities were all to be found when people talked about the president. "He may not have done a great job in my mind but I kinda trust him," said Jerry Shul. "I have faith he will get with the Republicans and get something done."
A less-flattering George Dallemand called this "a moment of truth" for the country. "I guess we have to wish for the best now, but I still think he is socialism."
In Miami, Karen Fitzgerald, 55, wore a black dress and said she was in mourning over Romney's defeat.
"It's an upsetting day," she said. But she took some comfort from her Democratic friends on Facebook, who have stopped chiding the other side in their posts. "Now they're all saying we need to work together and be united," she said. "Maybe we can."