Democrats running for governor in New Jersey and Virginia face possible defeat in November, despite strong showings by President Barack Obama in those states last year, in elections that could render the first judgments on the Obama presidency.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, a close Obama ally, is struggling to win re-election in the face of a strong challenge by Republican Christopher Christie.
The Obama administration has turned out in support of Corzine, a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive.
At a rally in Atlantic City this week, Vice President Joe Biden said it was "critically important" that Corzine is re-elected.
The Corzine campaign adapted the popular Obama slogan, hanging a banner next to Biden reading: "Yes we can -- again.
In Virginia, the only other U.S. state with a gubernatorial contest this year, Democrat Creigh Deeds has been losing so much ground in the polls to Republican Bob McDonnell that he has blamed the Obama administration's $787 economic stimulus plan for his low popularity.
A Washington Post poll published on Friday gave McDonnell a commanding lead of 53 percent to 44 percent, with less than a month to go until election day.
"Frankly, a lot of what's going on in Washington has made it very tough," Deeds told Politico newspaper. "We had a very tough August because people were just uncomfortable with the spending." (continues here)