Gibbs said the exit polling is "pretty clear people went to the polls and voted for local issues."
Asked the lessons from the race, Gibbs said that "the economy was on people's minds."
Results in NY-23 -- in which Democrat Bill Owens beat Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman 49-45 -- illustrate "anger can get you 45 percent of the vote." Gibbs also said the GOP "sought greatly to nationalize" the race there.
And next year? Gibbs said he expects Obama will play an "active role" in 2010 races.
Obama will soon be en route to Madison, Wisconsin, to talk about education. Tonight he and First Lady Michelle Obama will host an event at the White House to celebrate classical music.