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GOP sweeps Virginia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Independents who swept Barack Obama to a historic 2008 victory broke big for Republicans on Tuesday as the GOP wrested political control from Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey, a troubling sign for the president and his party heading into an important midterm election year.
Conservative Republican Bob McDonnell’s victory in the Virginia governor’s race over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and moderate Republican Chris Christie’s ouster of unpopular New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was a double-barreled triumph for a party looking to rebuild after being booted from power in national elections in 2006 and 2008.
The outcomes of Virginia and New Jersey were sure to feed discussion about the state of the electorate, the status of the diverse coalition that sent Obama to the White House and the limits of the president’s influence — on the party’s base of support and on moderate current lawmakers he needs to advance his legislative priorities.
His signature issue of health care reform was dealt a blow hours before polls closed when Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid signaled that Congress may not complete health care legislation this year, missing Obama’s deadline and pushing debate into a congressional election year. Democrats in swing-voting states and moderate-to-conservative districts may be less willing to back Obama on issues like health care after Virginia and New Jersey showed there are limits to how much he can protect his rank and file from fallout back home.
The president had personally campaigned for Deeds and Corzine, seeking to ensure that independents and base voters alike turned out even if he wasn’t on the ballot — and voters still rejected them. Thus, the losses were blots on Obama’s political standing to a certain degree and suggested potential problems ahead as he seeks to achieve his policy goals, protect Democratic majorities in Congress and expand his party’s grip on governors’ seats next fall.
Interviews with voters leaving polling stations in both states were filled with reasons for Democrats to be concerned and for Republicans to be optimistic, particularly about independents — the crown jewel of elections because they often determine outcomes.
Independents were a critical part Obama’s victory in Virginia, New Jersey and across the country. But after more than a year of recession, they fled from Democrats in the two states, where the economy trumped all.
The Associated Press exit polls showed that nearly a third of voters in Virginia described themselves as independents, and nearly as many in New Jersey did. They preferred McDonnell by almost a 2-1 margin over Deeds in Virginia, and Christie over Corzine by a similar margin.
Last year, independents split between Obama and Republican John McCain in both states.
In Virginia, McDonnell won by big margins in rapidly growing, far-flung Washington, D.C., suburbs — places like Loudoun and Prince William counties — that Republicans historically have won but where Obama prevailed last fall by winning over independents and swing voters. Republicans swept all three statewide Virginia offices up for election: governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
"Bob McDonnell’s victory gives Republicans tremendous momentum heading into 2010," declared Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association. "His focus on ideas and pocketbook issues will serve as a model for Republicans running next year."
Said Tim Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman and the term-limited Virginia governor: "We are disappointed."

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GOP sweeps Virginia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Independents who swept Barack Obama to a historic 2008 victory broke big for Republicans on Tuesday as the GOP wrested political control from Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey, a troubling sign for the president and his party heading into an important midterm election year.
Conservative Republican Bob McDonnell’s victory in the Virginia governor’s race over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and moderate Republican Chris Christie’s ouster of unpopular New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was a double-barreled triumph for a party looking to rebuild after being booted from power in national elections in 2006 and 2008.
The outcomes of Virginia and New Jersey were sure to feed discussion about the state of the electorate, the status of the diverse coalition that sent Obama to the White House and the limits of the president’s influence — on the party’s base of support and on moderate current lawmakers he needs to advance his legislative priorities.
His signature issue of health care reform was dealt a blow hours before polls closed when Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid signaled that Congress may not complete health care legislation this year, missing Obama’s deadline and pushing debate into a congressional election year. Democrats in swing-voting states and moderate-to-conservative districts may be less willing to back Obama on issues like health care after Virginia and New Jersey showed there are limits to how much he can protect his rank and file from fallout back home.
The president had personally campaigned for Deeds and Corzine, seeking to ensure that independents and base voters alike turned out even if he wasn’t on the ballot — and voters still rejected them. Thus, the losses were blots on Obama’s political standing to a certain degree and suggested potential problems ahead as he seeks to achieve his policy goals, protect Democratic majorities in Congress and expand his party’s grip on governors’ seats next fall.
Interviews with voters leaving polling stations in both states were filled with reasons for Democrats to be concerned and for Republicans to be optimistic, particularly about independents — the crown jewel of elections because they often determine outcomes.
Independents were a critical part Obama’s victory in Virginia, New Jersey and across the country. But after more than a year of recession, they fled from Democrats in the two states, where the economy trumped all.
The Associated Press exit polls showed that nearly a third of voters in Virginia described themselves as independents, and nearly as many in New Jersey did. They preferred McDonnell by almost a 2-1 margin over Deeds in Virginia, and Christie over Corzine by a similar margin.
Last year, independents split between Obama and Republican John McCain in both states.
In Virginia, McDonnell won by big margins in rapidly growing, far-flung Washington, D.C., suburbs — places like Loudoun and Prince William counties — that Republicans historically have won but where Obama prevailed last fall by winning over independents and swing voters. Republicans swept all three statewide Virginia offices up for election: governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
"Bob McDonnell’s victory gives Republicans tremendous momentum heading into 2010," declared Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association. "His focus on ideas and pocketbook issues will serve as a model for Republicans running next year."
Said Tim Kaine, the Democratic National Committee chairman and the term-limited Virginia governor: "We are disappointed."

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