The partisan rancor of the presidential campaign will have to give way to fiscal compromise no matter who wins, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein told CNBC.
In recent days Blankfein has signed on to an effort to pressure Washington lawmakers into resolving the "fiscal cliff," a term Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke coined to describe a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that will take place if Congress and the White House fail to reach deficit-reduction targets.
He said he's optimistic a deal can get done despite how bitterly the battle has been fought between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. (Read More: 'Get It Done,' Immelt Tells DC on Fiscal Cliff Fix)
"Whatever the outcome, the country's looking at this election as a referendum," Blankfein said. "Whoever wins the election, I think there will have to be a compromise. The other side is not going to go into a funk."
The cliff entails a series of measures, most prominently tax cuts enacted during President George W. Bush's tenure, as well as extended unemployment compensation and a fix on the Alternative Minimum Tax.
While much of Wall Street has been banking on a settlement before the end of the year, Goldman's own economists have expressed worry that investors are being too sanguine over what might happen.
Blankfein warned of the consequences if a resolution does not occur. (Read More: Companies Are Sitting on More Cash Than Ever Before)
"It won't be a winner-take-all, because at the end of the day they have to bring the other 49 percent — or, heck, the loser may have 51 percent of the popular vote — they have to bring that along and that will make the outcome and compromise more stable in the long run," he said.
"Depending on who wins, we should have a right-of-center outcome or a left-of-center outcome," he added. "But personally I do think it shouldn't veer too far from the center or else it's going to be a very volatile and unstable situation."
Despite the danger of not resolving the cliff issues, Blankfein said he has hope for the economy, which has languished under 1.3 percent growth and a high unemployment rate.
"If you keep your eye on the ball you can see we have an extraordinary amount of terrific things going for us, specifically in this country," he said. "Demographics, the energy situation, the fact that we've chewed through a lot of our problems...this next generation is going to have great opportunities."