Across the nation, Democrats are in danger of losing governorships in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and New Mexico — most of them important presidential battlegrounds.
"They are nearly all 2012 swing states," Schrimpf said. "If we gain back a majority of those swing states, it makes Obama's re-election a lot more difficult."
Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said a president's party historically loses five governorships in midterms. With some Republicans predicting twice that many gains or more, Daschle said "frustrating them from reaching their goals is something we'll celebrate."
Obama paid heavy attention to governors races in the final days, personally campaigning for many Democrats. "I think he's been tremendously helpful," Daschle said.
Well, but maybe not in Rhode Island.
The Democratic candidate, Frank Caprio, had been holding his own until Obama declined to endorse him during a visit a week ago. That's because former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee was running in the race as an independent. Chafee crossed party lines in 2008 to endorse Obama and the president was repaying the favor.
It didn't sit well with Caprio, who said Obama could "take his endorsement and really shove it." Caprio dipped in the polls following that remark. Over the weekend, Caprio said he wished he had chosen different language, although he didn't flatly apologize.
Polls show Chafee leading both Caprio and Republican John Robitaille.
"I don't think our candidate used the best choice of words in how he reacted to the situation," said Daschle. "But I was also pretty clear in expressing my frustration and disappointment that the White House didn't endorse him."