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Dems trailing in today's elections: A referendum on Obama? No way, says White House

November 3, 2009 |  8:37 am

President Obama campaigns for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009
Democrats are bracing for a trio of losses in today's elections.

They are poised for defeat in Virginia's gubernatorial race, where polls show Republican Bob McDonnell has a double-digit lead over his Democratic opponent.

And they could lose in upstate New York, where the Republican Party's candidate in the 23rd Congressional District had to withdraw in the face of Tea Party passion for conservative Doug Hoffman, now leading over the Democrat.

Heck, one year after President Obama's election, the climate is so dicey for Democrats that they could even lose the governor's race in New Jersey, where incumbent Jon Corzine, a former Wall Street executive, has used his own money to outspend Republican opponent Chris Christie almost 3 to 1 and could still lose the election.

You could tell the White House was worried by its attempt to discourage any talk that the elections are a referendum on the president. Take a listen:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "The notion that this [is] somehow a referendum on President Obama is just not the case." As for 2009 as a signal of what's to come in the 2010 elections, Gibbs added, "Whatever the results are, I don't think they portend a lot in dealing with the future."

White House political guru David Axelrod: "I don't really view those elections that way."

No one else is making that claim. The president has made three trips to New Jersey to help Corzine, and the Associated Press argues that if the incumbent Democrat loses, "it would be seen as a political embarrassment to the White House." And the New York Times calls the races a key "barometer on the president's popularity."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine. Credit: Associated Press

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