The reason the center-left/center-right bloc is dominating this election is because it intuitively knows that the only way our country can progress is with some grand bargains forged at the center. One is a package deal that slows entitlement and defense spending, raises taxes, invests in infrastructure, education and research and institutes tax reforms that unleash more entrepreneurship — all in the right sequence and scale — so the economy is nursed back to health. Another is a deal on immigration reform. And a third is a deal that opens the way to exploit our newfound bounty of natural gas, but with a plan that is environmentally sound and doesn’t divert us from our long-term goal of a clean-energy economy that mitigates climate change.

If Romney wins, it would be because the center-right/center-left concluded that he would approach these grand bargains with the moderate Republican instincts and willingness to compromise that he has been either faking or sincerely projecting in the last month — and would be able to impose that moderation on his party. If Obama wins, it would be because the center-right/center-left concluded that he has been trying to govern from the center, has made progress, but has also been obstructed by G.O.P. hard-liners, and they wanted to give him more time…

I think the best thing for the country today would be if the Republicans lost the presidency twice in a row, the way the Democrats did under Ronald Reagan, and then had to undergo the same kind of rethinking and reformation that Democrats did under Bill Clinton, which moved their party solidly into the center-left. Parties learn from defeat, not from victory — especially two defeats in a row.