U.S. voters go to the polls in a handful of elections Tuesday that could have implications for President Barack Obama, his Democratic allies in Congress and opposition Republicans.
Voters in Virginia and New Jersey will elect governors on Tuesday, and Republicans appear poised to take back the governor's mansion in Virginia after a streak of Democratic governors in recent years.
Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds by a large margin in public-opinion polls in Virginia. McDonnell appears to be attracting some of the same moderate voters that supported Barack Obama in last year's presidential contest in Virginia.
Mr. Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
A close race is being held for governor in New Jersey where the Democratic incumbent, John Corzine, is trying to hold off Republican challenger Chris Christie and independent candidate Chris Daggett.
President Obama has done some last-minute campaigning in New Jersey in the hope of helping Corzine win a second term.
"We need leaders who are committed to moving this country forward," he said. "We need leaders who are committed to moving New Jersey forward, and that is John Corzine, which is why you need to work hard on Tuesday!"
A Republican sweep will be seen by some as a rejection of President Obama's policies and could embolden Republican efforts to win congressional seats in 2010.
Political experts say early indications are that Republicans appear more energized than Democrats for this election year.
"Right now, what is driving Republicans towards success is the intensity gap," said Norman Ornstein, a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "If you look at those who are most inclined to be involved in politics right now, the dynamic shifts to the minority party."
In addition to the two governor's races, there are two vacant congressional seats to fill, one in California and one in New York.
The House race in upstate New York is getting a lot of attention after the Republican candidate pulled out, leaving a Democrat and a challenger running under the Conservative Party banner. The Conservative Party candidate has had strong support from the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says grass roots activists are demanding that Republicans adhere to conservative principles in advance of next year's midterm elections.
Limbaugh was interviewed on Fox News Sunday.
"The Republican Party needs to learn something," he said. "If it goes country-club blue-blood moderate, it is going to lose. If it goes [Ronald] Reagan conservative and commits to it, it is going to win landslides."
Some Democrats, including White House advisor David Axelrod, believe conservatives are trying to purge moderates from the Republican Party.
Axelrod appeared on the CBS program Face the Nation.
"And I think it sends a clear message to moderates within that party that there is no room at the inn for them, and that is why you see Republican identification in polls at a historic low," he said.
In addition to the races for governor and Congress, voters will elect mayors in several large U.S. cities, including New York, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Voters in several states will also decide ballot measures on a number of issues, including same-sex marriage, medical marijuana and legalized gambling.