The answer may be a "good news, bad news" story. On the positive side, it appears likely that whoever wins will face public and financial-market pressure to address the nation's fiscal problems. And many economists embrace a basic tenet of Romney's plan: to focus on generating economic growth, not solely on closing budget deficits in Washington.
On the negative side, however, are some serious doubts. Independent finance experts have asserted that Romney's fiscal plans are math-challenged. And even if his desire to work "across the aisle" is sincere, some analysts question whether he could deliver bipartisan cooperation, given the rigid party lines visible in Congress on issues like taxes.
"I know it because I have seen it," Romney said, referring to bipartisanship during his years as a state governor working with a Democratic legislature. "Good Democrats can come together with good Republicans to solve big problems. What we need is leadership."
In Washington today, that leadership will have to come from more than just the president. For embers of bipartisanship to rekindle, it will also require some effort by members of both parties in Congress.
It appears likely that Republicans will continue to control the House – with most of them having signed a pledge not to raise new tax revenue. The Senate will probably continue to be beyond the filibuster-proof control of either party – perhaps with Democrats retaining the majority. Democrats widely want a fiscal solution that includes some new tax revenue alongside spending cuts, and more US voters align with that view than with the no-new-revenue view.
That gets back to an aspect of the political climate that's more supportive of fiscal change: There's growing pressure to accomplish it.