WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House is continuing to downplay the notion that the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races are referendums on President Obama as he heads into next year's midterm elections.
"Whatever the results are I don't think they portend a lot in dealing with the future," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in Friday's briefing.
In Virginia, polls indicate that Republican Bob McDonnell is holding onto a clear lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds. The picture is muddier in New Jersey, where surveys suggest a statistical dead heat between Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and his Republican challenger, Chris Christie, with Independent Chris Daggett in the low double digits.
"In 2001, if I'm not mistaken, in Virginia and New Jersey, a Democrat won in either one of those," Gibbs continued. "I don't think anybody thought that when they looked at the election results in 2002 they thought that President Bush was signicantly hampered by that."
Democrats Mark Warner and Jim McGreevey won the 2001 gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, respectively. But Republicans, riding President Bush's sky-high approval ratings after the September 11 attacks, came out on top in the following year's mid-term elections.
Gibbs said the administration continues "to take the long view on what's going on in Washington and throughout the country."
The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, boasted in a memo sent to reporters Friday that Democrats are in danger of losing in both states because the administration has tried to do "too much, too soon and at too high a price."