Del. Brian J. Moran of Alexandria, whose job these days is to get Democrats elected to the House of Delegates, stood next to Sen. John F. Kerry and criticized President Bush and other Washington Republicans.

"They're no longer practicing compassionate conservatism," Moran told the crowd at an evening fundraiser. "They're practicing conspicuous corruption."

It would be a good red meat line anytime. But it might be especially right for these political times, and for this election, which could hinge more on national issues than any Virginia election has in recent memory.

Internal polling by candidates, the parties and other groups shows Democrats gaining, especially in Northern Virginia, where residents are much more attuned to the political machinations and the buzz of Washington.

And there's lots of buzz in Washington right now, none of it good for Republicans.

Bush was slipping in public polls during the summer, in part over concerns about his policies on Iraq. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and the response from the federal government was lacking, adding to Bush's ratings slide.

But that was just the beginning of what has become an extraordinarily bad year for Bush and other Republicans.

The party is battling scandals on several fronts: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff is being investigated for his dealings with lawmakers. Rep. Tom DeLay had to step down as House majority leader to fight an indictment over campaign finance activity in Texas. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee is under investigation concerning stock sales.

And then there is the investigation into who exposed Valerie Plame. That inquiry has apparently snared Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.

So what? What does all that have to do with Virginia?

In one sense, nothing.

Neither Jerry W. Kilgore, the Republican candidate for governor, nor the party's House candidates, with one exception, have had any direct connection during the campaign with the figures involved in the scandals. (DeLay held a private fundraiser for Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick of Prince William County.)

But political pros in Virginia on both sides of the aisle say the "political environment" can be crucial, especially in elections, such as this one, that lack a dominant state issue such as the car tax or the elimination of parole.

Normally, that environment favors Republicans in Virginia. The state's philosophical tilt to the right can be seen most clearly in federal elections, in which a Democrat hasn't won the state in a presidential election since 1964.

On a more practical level, the state's GOP candidates have enjoyed very public support from a popular president since 2001, when Bush succeeded a Democrat, Bill Clinton. Until the recent troubles, it was assumed that Kilgore could count on last-minute rallies by Bush in Virginia to whip up support among his base voters.

Now it's hard to see how Bush could help Kilgore. The last poll by the Mason-Dixon research firm, made public Sunday, showed Bush's popularity in the state at 42 percent, just a hair above his rating nationally. A political rally with Bush before the Nov. 8 vote is probably out of the question.

And for weeks it has been assumed that the difficulties for Rove and Libby might come to a dramatic conclusion about now. The reverberations wouldn't be good for Virginia Republicans.

People familiar with the internal polls say the effect is real, especially in Northern Virginia. The race between Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) and Gregory A. Werkheiser has tightened considerably. So has the battle between Del. Richard H. "Dick" Black (R-Loudoun) and David Poisson.

Usually, races like those would not be close, even though the Democrats in both places are said to have run very good campaigns. So something else is probably going on.

Will the national Republican problems make the difference for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine and for Moran's House candidates?

That's unclear, in part because the races are so close. But there are few people in Virginia on either end of the political spectrum who are dismissing that impact.

So, after the election, when the pundits try to explain the results, they might do well to look outside of Virginia's borders for the answers.