People who have made a more hopeless mess of their lives than the two couples in Jennifer Close’s novel, The Hopefuls, would be difficult to find. Beth and Matt are a recently married couple who have relocated to Washington D. C. from New York. Matt is somewhat of a political junkie so Beth feels she has to support the move even though she greatly prefers New York. They become close friends with another couple, Jimmy and Ashleigh, who are from Texas. The men bond over their jobs in the political world and the wives enjoy each other’s company. So much of the infighting is revealed as they pursue their careers in the Obama administration. One character takes great pride in his knowledge of what kind of snacks Obama prefers. Jimmy comes closer to a political election when friends from Texas persuade him to run for Railroad Commissioner. He asks Matt to be his campaign manager. What will happen to these people to whom winning is everything?