Voters are going to the polls for several hotly-contested U.S state elections seen as a referendum on the policies of President Barack Obama one year after his election.

Two key races in Tuesday’s elections are in states the president carried last year.

In Virginia, polls indicate Republican candidate Bob McDonnell is favored to win over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the governor’s race. Polls indicate many independent voters in the state who last year voted for Obama are supporting McDonnell.

Another race being closely watched is in New Jersey, normally a safe Democratic area. Democratic Governor Jon Corzine is in a dead heat with Republican challenger Chris Christie.

President Obama has campaigned for both Democratic candidates, trying to avoid a result that Republicans would interpret as a rejection of his policies on the economy, health care and other issues.

Political analysts say Republican victories in both New Jersey and Virginia would energize the Obama administration’s opponents and set up a major battle for control of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections.

Elsewhere in the country, a closely watched special congressional election in upstate New York has exposed tensions between moderates and conservatives within the Republican party.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to easily win a third term in office. Mayoral races also are on the ballot in the cities of Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

In a number of states, the public will vote on controversial issues such as legalized gambling, same-sex marriage and allowing marijuana use for medical reasons.

‘Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.’

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