"That's not bipartisanship. That's not change. That's surrender," Obama warned in the final days of the campaign. "That's surrender to the same status quo."
Obama's thinking, too, is that Republicans will have to help him fix the nation's broken immigration system or risk alienating a Hispanic population that could torpedo the GOP's electoral power for years.
Voters created this dynamic because they themselves are increasingly polarized. The nation was split 50-48 percent in choosing Obama over Romney. The share of moderate voters in the middle keeps shrinking.
There are signs of hope for compromise.
Karen Fitzgerald of Miami was all but grieving Republican Mitt Romney's loss to Obama. Throughout the election, her friends, most of whom are Democrats, had chided the Republicans on Facebook. On Wednesday, she saw a different theme in their posts.
"Now they're all saying we need to work together and be united," she said. "Maybe we can."
Associated Press writers Christine Armario in Miami and Ken Thomas and Andrew Taylor in Washington, and AP Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller has covered the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Follow Feller on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenFellerDC
An AP News Analysis
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.