In New Jersey, the race for governor is neck-and-neck between Republican Chris Christie and Democrat Jon Corzine. The Virginia gubernatorial race has seen Bob McDonnell take a commanding lead over Creigh Deeds. And in New York, Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava has dropped out after falling behind Democrat Bill Owens and Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. All three could help define a new political landscape after surprising special election outcomes in Oklahoma and Tennessee just weeks ago.

In what could be a big loss for Democrats, polling on Friday showed Chris Christie leading by a slim margin in New Jersey, 41 percent favoring him opposed to Jon Corzine’s 39. The numbers are well within the margin of error and the race could break either way. The White House has stepped heavily into the race to give Corzine support, with President Barack Obama appearing in television and radio ads for the Democratic candidate as well as traveling to New Jersey to stump for him there. Democrats hope that Obama’s presence will result in increased voter turnout.

The president has distanced himself, however, from the gubernatorial race in Virginia where Republican Bob McDonnell has opened up an 11 point lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds. Virginia voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 when it weighed in favor of Obama last November. According to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, “The fact of the matter is that Obama won Virginia comfortably. And the Democrat is now well behind in Virginia. Obviously that’s not a good sign for Obama.”

In probably the most compelling race, Republican Dierdre Scozzafava put her campaign for New York’s 23rd Congressional District on suspension after falling behind both Democrat Bill Owens and upstart Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. Hoffman’s campaign has intrigued the nation, having received support from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and now House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) after Scozzafava’s drop out. A registered Republican, Hoffman jumped into the race because he believed Scozzafava, a pro-choice candidate who also supported the embattled ACORN organization among other controversial issues not associated with Republicans, didn’t represent the “ideals and values” of the party.

If these three races break conservative, it could paint a very different landscape for the political races of 2010. Already, special elections earlier in October have swung the way of Republicans. In Oklahoma, Todd Russ won a State House seat that hadn’t been held by the GOP since 1965. In Tennessee, Pat Marsh picked up a State House seat that had never been controlled by Republicans and gave the GOP their first opportunity to pick the Tennessee Speaker of the House in 40 years.


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