U.S. voters are casting ballots in a handful of key elections Tuesday.
The eastern states of New Jersey and Virginia are electing governors, while large and influential cities, including New York, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston and Miami, are electing mayors.
U.S. political analysts are looking for clues from Tuesday's results to help predict the outcome of next year's congressional elections, when all 435 members of the House of Representatives and one third of the nation's 100 senators face voters.
But political strategists say Tuesday's elections are focused more on individual candidates and regional issues than national debates and trends that could influence next year's fight for control of Congress.
In New Jersey, a majority-Democrat state, incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie is expected to easily win to re-election (against Democrat Barbara Buono). He has emphasized his appeal across political lines to both Independents and Democrats and is widely believed to be planning a run for president in 2016.
Meanwhile in Virginia, surveys show Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a staunch Republican conservative and opponent of President Obama's health care law, fighting an uphill battle for the governor's seat against former national Democratic Party leader Terry McAuliffe.
He is a close confidant of former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Both Clintons, as well as President Obama and his wife, Michelle, lent their voices to McAuliffe's campaign.
In New York City, three-term mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-Independent, is expected to be replaced by Democrat Bill de Blasio. Ironically, the majority-Democrat city has not elected a Democratic mayor since 1989. De Blasio has a wide lead over Republican Joe Lhota, a one-time deputy mayor to Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman, is prohibited by law for running for a fourth term.
Americans are also voting on a variety of ballot initiatives Tuesday. In the western state of Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana last year, voters will decide whether to impose a 25 percent tax on the drug. The money would go toward regulating the marijuana industry and building schools.