(Reuters) - President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats attempted on Sunday to tap into voter anger about a 16-day U.S. government shutdown and turn Virginia's upcoming governor's election into a referendum on Tea Party conservatives.

With Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe leading polls over Republican Ken Cuccinelli before Tuesday's vote, Obama and Democratic speakers at a rally in the Washington suburb of Arlington pressed party activists to focus on turning out the vote.

Northern Virginia's Washington suburbs, where many government employees and contractors live, was hit particularly hard by the government shutdown last month that resulted from a stalemate over the U.S. budget and debt ceiling that Americans for the most part blamed on Republicans.