Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

What will off-year elections mean for Obama, Dems?

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine join at a campaign rally in Newark on Sunday. Corzine is in a tight re-election bid against a Republican opponent.

Getty Images

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine join at a campaign rally in Newark on Sunday. Corzine is in a tight re-election bid against a Republican opponent.

President Barack Obama swept into New Jersey on Sunday, asking supporters to summon the enthusiasm they poured into his election last November and deliver a victory for Gov. Jon S. Corzine.

"He's one of the best partners I have in the White House. We work together," Obama said. "We know our work is far from over."

Obama's appearances in Camden and Newark underscored the White House's determination to stave off defeat for Corzine, the only Democratic incumbent up for re-election this year, who is facing an aggressive challenge from Christopher J. Christie, a Republican.

The race is one of several likely to be viewed as a barometer of the president's popularity.

Virginia voters will also choose a new governor on Tuesday, but there, the Republican, Bob McDonnell, has a double-digit lead against the Democrat, Creigh Deeds.

In a congressional race in upstate New York, the White House helped engineer the surprise endorsement of the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, by state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee who dropped out on Saturday. The move by Scozzafava, a moderate former small-town mayor, only intensified the intraparty fighting in a contest that has become a battle for the future of the Republican Party.

This handful of off-year political contests offer some clues about how Americans are viewing Obama, as well as an early measure of the landscape for next year's midterm elections.

But precisely what kind of clues?

"These are bellwether races — not just as a referendum on this administration, but on our party as well," said Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Joel Benenson, the pollster for Obama and Corzine, dismissed that argument, saying elections were isolated episodes with no long-term political meaning. "I really think this is an obsession of the media," Benenson said. "The reality is that all these elections have very unique dynamics. People read too much into things and try to nationalize races that have local dynamics."

At the very least, the results in the governors' races, if not predictive, are quite likely to drive the political narrative, bolstering or diminishing Obama's political stature as he seeks to rally a divided party. The outcome could, to a limited degree, help measure whether Obama's success last year was a phenomenon limited to him or the early signs of a long-term Democratic resurgence. And it may offer a hint of the thinking of independent voters.

What will off-year elections mean for Obama, Dems? 11/01/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 1, 2009 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  2. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a point of saying before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings
  3. St. Petersburg council sets millage rate in first budget hearing

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council set the millage rate and gave initial approval to Mayor Rick Kriseman's $538 million budget at Thursday night's hearing.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. How many more people would lack coverage under Cassidy-Graham? We can guess

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — It's safe to say the new Obamacare rollback measure toward which the Senate is charging would mean fewer Americans have health coverage. Exactly how many is unclear. Some argue it could be more than 22 million people. Others say it could be fewer.

  5. Woman's decomposed body found near St. Petersburg railroad tracks

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A woman's body was found near the railway tracks behind an empty building at 3100 38th Ave. N, according to St. Petersburg police.