Republicans Win in Key States
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and COREY DADE
A Republican sweep in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday shifted the political terrain against President Barack Obama only a year after his historic election.
In New Jersey, Republican former U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie ousted incumbent Democrat Jon S. Corzine with a surprisingly strong showing. Virginia voters elected Republican former Attorney General Bob McDonnell as their commonwealth's next governor, handing the state back to the GOP after eight years of Democratic rule.
At the Polls
In a special House election in upstate New York, Democratic lawyer Bill Owens won a hard fought race against third-party conservative Doug Hoffman.
A year after voters swept into power a presidential candidate promising change, voters in Virginia and New Jersey delivered more change, this time to the Republican Party's advantage. Virginia's lieutenant governor and attorney general offices also went to Republican candidates.
Voters in all three states expressed concern about jobs and the economy, and some expressed unease over Democratic policies. Elizabeth Dechent, voting in the Richmond, Va., suburb of Henrico County, saw mounting discontent with Mr. Obama.
"I think there are a lot of questions about whether [the country] is going in the right direction," she said, declining to say for whom she voted. "Obama's slogan last year was change, but I think it's changed a little too much and needs to change back the other way a bit."
One year ago, Mr. Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 to win Virginia. The state had elected two Democratic governors and two Democratic senators since 2001.
In New Jersey, Democrats failed to hold on to a governor's mansion that had been in their control for eight years.
In New York, a House seat held for more than 16 years by a soft-spoken Republican focused on protecting the Fort Drum Army base and upstate waterways will either move Democratic for the first time in more than a century, or be captured by a conservative, third-party activist vowing to shun home-district pork.
"This is an election about discontent," said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster for The Wall Street Journal. "It's an election where the ins lose, the outs win, and in that respect, it's more a continuation of '08 than a transition to something brand new."
White House officials said on Tuesday afternoon that the results -- whether positive or negative for the Democrats -- should not be laid at the president's feet, nor would they shed much light on the higher-stakes midterm congressional elections of 2010. For decades, the party that took power in Washington has watched the opposition party win one year later in New Jersey and Virginia.