Races an early test of Obama influence

October 31, 2009

Virginia and New Jersey, two states President Barack Obama has worked to keep in the hands of the Democrats. But all that could change this Election Day, if the handful of Mayoral and Congressional races and a Same Sex Union initiative don’t go the way the Democrats want them to go. Risking political embarrassment if they lost, Obama has been campaigning for the Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey. The aim is to win Governor’s races and get the congressional seat in upstate New York which is currently help by the GOP. The effort is not without good reason. Virginia is a new swing state in national elections and New Jersey is a democratic stronghold; losing both states would mean setbacks for the Obama administration.

Obama was the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win in Virginia since 1964. A victory for the Republicans now could spell trouble for the Democrats in the future, when they compete next fall in other swing states. Being a Democratic-leaning state and with an incumbent Democratic governor, New Jersey might be harder for the GOP to win; But Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine is in a close race with Republican Chris Christie and independent Chris Daggett, signifying all is not well in the state of New Jersey.

While it’s easy to overanalyze these results, in the end, they will only give us clues as to the public’s attitudes and hints about the how the political landscape is formed. Certainly, the races are not a prediction of the results of the 2010 midterm elections; a conclusion echoed by former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe “The results of these elections tend to be over read, these are local races. There’s 18,000 lifetimes between now and next November.”