RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) - Assessing the national political landscape on the morning after his party lost two closely-watched gubernatorial elections, Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine said Wednesday that voters shouldn't draw too many conclusions from the two Republican victories as they look ahead to the 2010 midterms.
"There isn't really any historical connection between off-cycle elections in New Jersey and Virginia and next year's midterm elections," Kaine said during a press conference at the State Capitol complex in Richmond, where he serves as Virginia governor.
Kaine said he had several conversations with the White House about the races since last night, but he has not spoken directly with the president.
The governor suggested that both races hinged on local rather than national issues and that the president "was not really a factor" in either contest. While a majority of voters in both states said the president did not influence their choice for governor, exit polls indicated that national issues like the economy and health care weighed heavily on voters' minds.
"In terms of the midterms, I think the president's popularity is the key issue," he said, forecasting next year's vote.
In both states, Kaine argued, the president remains broadly popular, including among independent voters. But he also expressed concern about independent voters in Virginia flocking to the Republican winner, Bob McDonnell, by a two-to-one margin.
"The fact that independent voters supported Gov.-elect McDonnell by a large margin is something we have to assess and I don't have answer for that right now," he said.
Kaine acknowledged that a lack of excitement for the man at the top of the Democratic ticket in Virginia, Creigh Deeds, impacted down-ticket losses in the state. Republicans won races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, and picked up five seats in the House of Delegates.
"I will say that that I did maintain from the beginning that the path to victory as to take advantage of and energize the president's supporters, and obviously we have to asses why that didn't happen in this race," he said.
Kaine said he has spoken to McDonnell since his win last night to begin the transition process.