I've beaten the referendum story to death since February.
But if the story from tonight is that these races are a reflection on Barack Obama in any way, then it's a major victory.
With that being said, and with what I've been watching of the media throughout the day, it seems to me that the only way the referendum story takes is if the GOP win all three:
NY-23, VA, NJ.
If we win, the GOP will have undeniable momentum.
If not, today's election will be old news by tomorrow afternoon.
UPDATE: The RNC provided these quotes that help push the referendum motif.
Chairman Tim Kaine Says Virginia “The Perfect Bellwether State.” “‘Chuck Todd [chief political analyst for NBC News] has said Virginia is the perfect bellwether state, and I really believe that,’ Kaine said.” (Ray Reed, “Kaine Sees Tougher Fight, More Negative Tone In Governor’s Race,” The News & Advance, 9/30/09)
Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean Called Virginia A Bellwether. “I think the [race] in Virginia is somewhat of a bellwether. In general, Democrats have done well in Virginia. The President won Virginia, we’ve had two great governors in Virginia in a row. … I think you could make some argument that’s a national race.” (MSNBC, 8/13/09)
Obama’s Aides Said Corzine Loss Would Be Seen “As A Rebuke Of Mr. Obama.” “The state is one of only two nationwide holding governor’s contests this year. And Mr. Obama’s aides acknowledge that a loss in this deep-blue state would be interpreted as a rebuke of Mr. Obama, affecting his ability to pass major legislation and the public’s perceptions of his party’s power.” (David M. Halbfinger & David Kocieniewski, “Meanwhile, Next Door, It’s Team Obama For Corzine Sign In To Recommend,” The New York Times, 9/24/09)
Rachel Maddow Said Gubernatorial Races Are “Bellwethers, Real World Indicators Of What’s Going On In American Politics.” “We are now precisely two weeks away from election 2009, when voters across specific parts of the country will take to the polls to vote in some local and statewide elections. And some of these elections have gained national attention, like the very highly-anticipated governor`s races in New Jersey and Virginia. For the country as a whole, these races are important to the extent that they are bellwethers, real world indicators of what`s going on in American politics.” (MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” 10/20/09)
Gov. Ed Rendell Said If Democrats Lose Both Races, People Will Say “It’s Because Of Obama.” “We've got a tougher road to hoe in Virginia, but if we were to lose Virginia and New Jersey - two elections - people would say it's because of Obama and as such it will be more difficult for him to pass healthcare reform and the public option.” (Max Pizarro, “Rendell And Booker Make The Case For Gubernatorial Contest As Obama Referendum,” PolitickerNJ.com, 10/24/09)
Former NGA & DNC Chairman Gov. Ed Rendell: “What happens in New Jersey is going to reflect on President Obama.” (Max Pizarro, “Rendell And Booker Make The Case For Gubernatorial Contest As Obama Referendum,” PolitickerNJ.com, 10/24/09)
Democratic Consultant Said Democrats Can’t Let Corzine “Crash Crash Because It Will Be Perceived As A Failure By President Obama.” The Democrats do not want to go down in governors' races this cycle because that would empower the Republicans,’ said New York-based Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who has previously worked in New Jersey. ‘Governor Corzine's numbers are not good. They can't allow Governor Corzine to crash because it will be perceived as a failure by President Obama and the Democrats nationally -- whether it's fair or not.’” (Josh Margolin And Claire Heininger, “Party: If Corzine crashes, Obama will get burned,” The Star-Ledger, 6/16/09)
MNSBC’s Chris Matthews: “7 In 10 of those polled in Virginia say that what they think of President Obama is not going to be a factor in how they vote for governor next Tuesday. That's what they say, ladies and gentlemen, but let me tell you something, how they vote is going to say a lot about what people in Virginia think of President Obama.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 10/27/09)