White House Gears Up for Disappointing Election Day

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Oct 31, 2009 9:53am

With Democrats poised to lose the governor's race in Virginia, and to possibly lose the governor's race in New Jersey and a special election for a House seat in New York, the White House has started insisting any pending losses will not have any significance.

"Whatever the results are I don't think they portend a lot in dealing with the future," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Friday, pointing to the fact that Democrats won the Virginia and New Jersey governors' races in 2001 despite a very popular President Bush, with Republicans picking up seats in Congress in 2002.

"I think we continue to take the long view on what's going on in Washington and throughout the country," Gibbs said.

In Virginia, Democrat Creigh Deeds trailed Republican Bob McDonnell, 44% to 55%, in the latest Washington Post poll through October 25. Since the early 1970s, the party not in power in the White House has won the Virginia governor's race, and even Democratic supporters of Deeds' have been saying he certainly played a role in this tradition likely being continued on Tuesday.

President Obama will appear at campaign rallies in New Jersey Sunday to help the struggling and unpopular incumbent governor, Jon Corzine, who polls show is in a statistical dead heat with the Republican nominee, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden will appear at a campaign rally in Watertown, N.Y., to help the Democratic candidate in the special election for that New York House seat, Bill Owens, who is in a tight race with Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

One bright spot for Democrats in this tough atmosphere has been infighting among conservatives and Republicans in that House race. The Republican nominee, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, is in third place in many polls, having largely been abandoned by national Republican figures. That Scozzafava is liberal to moderate on some issues — same sex marriage, abortion rights — has angered many in the Republican base, and Hoffman has benefited from that outrage, drawing the endorsements of such GOP stars as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former New York Gov. George Pataki.

One notable exception has been former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., who told Fox News that "this idea that we're suddenly going to establish litmus tests and all across the country we're going to purge the party of anybody who doesn't agree with us 100 percent; that guarantees Obama's reelection, that guarantees Pelosi as Speaker-for-life." Gingrich pointed out that Scozzafava has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, and opposes Democratic legislation on health care reform and climate change.

President Obama is responsible for the need for a special election in the Upstate New York district, having tapped the former congressman in the district, Rep. John McHugh, R-NY, as his new Army Secretary.

- jpt

UPDATE: Republican nominee for Congress Dede Scozzafava announced Saturday that she has dropped out of the race, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

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