My impression had been that the parties were going to split the two gubernatorial elections taking place this year, in Virginia and New Jersey. I expected the Democrats to hold on to Virginia, and the Republicans to re-take New Jersey.
But, according to polls reported by Real Clear Politics, Republicans are leading in both of those races, and the G.O.P. is doing slightly better in Virginia than in New Jersey.
In Virginia, Republican former Attorney General Robert McDonnell leads his Democratic opponent, state Senator Creigh Deeds, by 12 percentage points.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey frontrunner, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie holds an 11.3-point lead over incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine.
As I've previously discussed, personal issues regarding Corzine are a factor in the New Jersey contest. But I suspect that, in both states, voters' perceptions of the parties on the national level are playing a role.
The Democrats have been riding high recently, with large gains in the 2006 and 2008 elections. However, now that they have gotten down to the messy business of governing, those knights in shining armor who rode forward to correct the mistakes of the previous Republican congressional majorities, and of President Bush, have seen their armor get a bit tarnished.
High deficits, and a push to increase the federal government's role in health care, seem to have resurrected fears among middle-ground voters of left-wing extremism. President Obama's personal popularity numbers are falling, and that cannot be good news for the likes of Deeds and Corzine.
As I discussed in this and other posts, the Democrats have had momentum in Virginia recently. But it is in those normally-Republican states that responded to Obama's moderate campaign messages, including Virginia, that we should expect the president to be most vulnerable to decreases in support, due to perceptions of a movement to the left on his part.