NJ What kind of commonalities did you find in these places?

Dent There’s a level of civility in places, where there is a swinging back and forth and where there is a large centrist population—a population that you can’t necessarily account for one way or the other. Look at what’s happening in Washington—the relationship between Congress and the White House now, and the gridlock. But when you go to these so-called purple places, you see how people get along across the divide in a way that might behoove Washington to watch and explore.

There are a lot of examples of this. I’ll start in Ohio, where we interviewed two best friends and business partners who started a company together. One is very strongly for Obama and one will vote for anyone but—and that’s Romney now, of course. In another, the chair of the Democratic Party is a history teacher and the chair of the Republican Party is his student. Their relationship is very collegial. Of course they have their feuds, but they get along very well…

There a lot who are with him, who say Obama was dealt a very dirty hand. There’s a lot more optimism than one might perceive, based on a lot of the coverage, when you talk to people in these counties. One of the things about a big chunk of this population is that there’s a lot of pragmatism there and they are not as reflexive as both people on the right and the left. There are people who are going to consider what the country was like in 2008 and how it may not be as good as they want it now but it’s better and perhaps it’s on its own way. That is a big chunk of the people we’ve interviewed.