As analysts in both parties debate the possibility of a 1994-style pro-GOP landslide in 2010, an interesting thing is happening in the two gubernatorial races that will conclude this very November. As you may know, it's supposed to be an iron law of history that the party controlling the White House always loses gubernatorial elections in these two states, and early general election polls this year showed Republican candidates Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey with big leads.
But now, as voters begin to really focus on these campaigns, recent polls show both contests tightening up considerably. The latest two major polls in Virginia (from the Washington Post and Insider Advantage) show Democrat Creigh Deeds cutting McDonnell's lead to four points, and a new Democracy Corps survey in New Jersey shows incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine pulling within one point of Christie.
Deeds has been running ads in vote-heavy northern Virginia tying McDonnell's public record to his abrasively right-wing master's thesis, and greater scrutiny of Christie seems to have tarnished his goo-goo reformer image. Both GOPers may still win, but the current trends provide a reminder that "history" doesn't vote, and that voters choose between actual candidates, not just symbols of the national parties.