Double blow for Obama as Republicans win Virginia and New Jersey

Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk

November 4, 2009 - Republicans retake governorship of Virginia and oust Democratic governor in New Jersey on day of elections across the US (by Ewen MacAskill in Washington for guardian.co.uk)

Barack Obama suffered a double blow last night when the Republicans secured stunning victories in the first electoral test since he won the White House a year ago.

The Republicans celebrated a comeback that reverses a trend of Democratic victories stretching back to 2005, winning the governorship of Virginia, the state where Obama's victory last year in the presidential race was one of the high points of his campaign.

But the surprise of the night was their ousting of the incumbent Democratic governor in New Jersey, traditionally a Democratic bastion.

Although Democratic officials insisted the elections had not been a referendum on Obama's presidency, any lingering Democratic euphoria from his win last year has now disappeared.

Exit polls showed widespread unhappiness with the continuing weakness of the economy, in particular job shortages, and, to a much lesser extent, concern about Obama's proposed healthcare reform.

The White House, anticipating that it would not be a good night for the Democrats, attempted to play down the significance of the elections, saying that Obama, who had campaigned in both Virginia and New Jersey last week, was not even planning to stay up to watch the results, and hinting he was going to watch sport on television instead.

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