Program Note: Don't miss our special election coverage tonight, starting at 8 p.m. ET. And tune in to AC360° as we drill down on the politics of these key races and why they matter. 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/23/art.hoffman.cnn.jpg caption="In New York's 23rd Congressional District race, Republican Dede Scozzafava endorsed a Democrat instead of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, pictured."]
CNN's Political Unit
Tuesday's off-year election might not have the high stakes of the 2008 presidential election, but there are several significant races worth watching:
• New York's 23rd Congressional District
Why it matters: A conservative backlash against a moderate Republican candidate propelled this race into national headlines as proof of an ongoing family feud between the far right and moderates for control of the party.
What's the story?: Local Republican leaders picked Dede Scozzafava because of her appeal to centrist Republicans, independents and even some Democrats. But it sparked a conservative revolt, and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman outpolled Scozzafava, forcing her to withdraw. Scozzafava has since endorsed Democrat Bill Owens.
• Virginia Governor
Why it matters: This race is seen as an early referendum on voters' attitudes toward President Obama and his policies and an opportunity for Republicans to turn back recent Democratic gains.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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