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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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Larry Sabato Brings His Crystal Ball to ODU

Larry Sabato Brings His Crystal Ball to ODU

T.J. Thompson
Contributing Writer

UVA’s Center for Politics’ Director and Norfolk native Larry Sabato visited the Big Blue Room at the Ted on his Crystal Ball tour. Sabato is known for his consistent and extraordinary accuracy in predicting election results. Since 2002, he has been gazing into his crystal ball and forecasting American elections with a success rate over 90 percent. His accuracy has been recognized by MSNBC, CNBC and Pew Research Center.

Thursday night he shared his predictions for the general election occurring Nov. 8 in the U.S. Local NPR affiliate WHRV hostess Kathy Lewis was the emcee for the evening. She welcomed retired Congressman Bill “Dr. Bill” Whitehurst to the stage kicking off the festivities to support Friends of the ODU Libraries. Whitehurst served nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning in the ‘60s.

He was also the graduation speaker at Sabato’s commencement from Norfolk Catholic High School. Sabato would continue his education at UVA following with graduate work at Princeton, then on to Queen’s College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He finished with a doctorate’s degree in politics.

Sabato has made the best use of his politics degree and education. He is renowned and respected for his opinion on the topic of elections and most anything political sciences. He shared those ideas with a packed Big Blue Room.

The first discussion addressed the presidential and vice presidential debate winners and losers. Sabato stated that while Sec. Clinton clearly defeated her opponent Donald Trump during the debate, Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana took his debate in a surprising victory over Sen. Tim Kaine. Claiming Kaine was out of character from his normal friendly demeanor, Sabato pointed out the effects Kaine’s aggression had in his loss.

The next portion of the lecture focused on how Trump could rise as victorious on election day. Although this is a longshot by Sabato’s standards, he stated this is where parallel universe theories may hold true.

Sabato’s examples of how a Trump presidency could be likely are not that far-fetched. They include underestimating the strength of Rust Belt voters who will most likely vote Republican, the non-college blue collar workers termed Reagan Democrats, an extreme act of terrorism on American soil before Nov. 8, and focus shifting to the Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Scalia. If these events occurred, they could shift momentum to the Trump camp.

Detailing these ideas of a Republican presidential win, Sabato stated Trump still has an uphill battle. He lacks the temperament to be president according to the professor and is too deeply entrenched in controversy.

Shifting focus to factors contributing to a Clinton victory came next. Sabato’s most telling sign came from that of the influence women will have in this election.

Women are 53 percent of the electorate and disproportionately support Clinton over Trump. Furthermore, Trump has failed to invest in his campaigning with tools such as focus groups and polls which Sabato claims could easily help either candidate gain another two percent of voters.

In summary, he predicted a Clinton victory with a strong likelihood of the Senate leaning Democratic as well. Sabato stated that the only way he sees the House changing hands from the Republicans would be with low Republican voter turnout and a Clinton landslide victory of more than nine points.

In a conversation with Dr. Bill following the lecture, decades of political experience backed up what Sabato had just shared.

“What we got tonight was a real treat from someone who is remarkably astute in assessing political trends,” stated Whitehurst, “he gave himself some wiggle room, and it was everything I expected and more.”

Whitehurst also believes a Clinton victory is inevitable as well as a flip of the Senate.

“I think Republicans will retain control of the House because of the gerrymandering but as he (Sabato) said, you certainly get surprises. I’ve given up on the presidential race – I don’t think Trump has a chance,” said Whitehurst, concluding his comments.

Time is on the side of one of these candidates and the worst enemy of the other. With less than a month to go in this acrimonious election, Sabato best summed up his predictions by stating, “He who lives by the crystal ball ends up eating ground glass.”