American voters have delivered a sharp rebuke to Barack Obama by rejecting his allies in Virginia, the swing state that helped deliver him the White House almost exactly a year ago, and the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey.
Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate, trounced his Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds, for whom Mr Obama had campaigned, by 17 points to become Virginia governor. Republicans also won the races in Virginia for lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Governor Jon Corzine, the incumbent Democrat, was defeated by Chris Christie in New Jersey, where no Republican had won state-wide since 1997.
It was a sobering night for Mr Obama, who had campaigned ferociously for Mr Corzine, appearing at two of his rallies on Sunday. A sole consolation was an unexpectedly close race in upstate New York, where it seemed that the Democrat might overcome a Conservative party candidate after the Republican withdrew.
Major Michael Bloomberg of New York, a Republican turned Independent, was re-elected for a third term by a relatively narrow four-point margin over his massively outspent opponent.
Although White House officials insisted that Mr Obama would be watching a basketball game and would not pay any attention to the results coming in, the results were inevitably seen by many as a mini referendum on his presidency.
Democrats had hoped Mr Obama's election would reshape the American political map for a generation. The party's defeats could imperil his push for health-care reform by making conservative Democrats wary of supporting it for fear of losing their seats in next year's mid-term congressional elections.
Virginia took on an almost iconic status for the Obama campaigning, voting for their man by a thumping margin over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. The traditionally conservative state with a strong military presence then chose Mr Obama over Senator John McCain, a Vietnam war hero.
In what could become the model for a national Republican revival, Mr McDonnell ran as a conservative on fiscal issues but played down his social conservative credentials and resisted offers from Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and darling of the Right, to campaign for him.
Attention had also focused on a special election in New York's 23rd district, which abuts Canada. Conservative activists revolted after local party chiefs selected Dede Scozzafava, a liberal Republican, forcing her to pull out.
Mrs Scozzafava then endorsed her erstwhile Democratic rival Bill Owens rather than the Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, a Republican incensed by her liberal positions. With 71 per cent of the votes counted, Mr Owens had a surprise lead of four points.
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