Professor Larry Sabato hosts Crystal Ball, releases midterm election predictions

Sabato and team predict Republican gains

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Politics professor Larry Sabato announced his predictions for Tuesday's midterm elections at the Crystal Ball on Monday night.

Politics Prof. Larry Sabato hosted his annual Crystal Ball predictions Monday night, predicting Republican gains in Tuesday’s congressional and state elections.

Sabato and his team at the Center for Politics said they predict the Republican Party will gain a total of eight seats in the Senate to gain a 53-47 majority, as well as nine seats in the House of Representatives for a 243-192 majority. In gubernatorial races, Sabato predicted Republicans would lose three positions — two to Democrats and one to an independent — while the rest would be retained by their respective parties.

“Despite the dislike for Washington these days, numerous people out there are election junkies and they provide a great audience for us,” Skelley said.

The team left nine remaining races unpredicted, considering them to be “toss ups.”

Sabato and his team displayed a series of in-depth analyses for these races.

Sabato and his team had previously predicted the Republican Party would gain ground in both Senate and House elections, based on the fact that most Congressional races are based in conservative stronghold states, which are either Southern or mostly rural.

The University Center for Politics has organized the Crystal Ball presentation since the 2000 presidential election, and the events take place every two years, for each midterm and presidential election. Meanwhile, “Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” an online weekly newsletter, provides year-round election analysis and reporting headed by Sabato.

In the last year, Sabato and his team at the “Crystal Ball” have made predictions for all 507 Senate, Representative, and state gubernatorial races of this midterm cycle, 498 of which they predicted in publications prior to Monday night’s presentation.

Center for Politics spokesperson Geoffrey Skelley, associate editor for the “Crystal Ball,” said Sabato’s presentations have great appeal during election cycles.

“Despite the dislike for Washington these days, numerous people out there are election junkies and they provide a great audience for us,” Skelley said. “The Center’s chief goal is to improve civic engagement, and we believe talking about elections to be an excellent way to get people interested in the political process.”

University College Republicans Chairman Mac McClure, a third-year College student, said he agreed with Skelley about the potential for election predictions to spur voter participation.

“On the day of the elections, I think that polls and predictions can have an impact [on voter participation],” McClure said. “Overall, I think that they are more encouraging than discouraging”.

University Democrats President Kat Bailey, a fourth-year College student, said she thinks predictions are useful, but she is unsure what impact they have on elections.

“I think [predictions] motivate partisan supporters to vote in states where the election is predicted to be close, because they feel like their vote matters,” Bailey said. “While these predictions are becoming more and more accurate, they do not decide an election.”

Despite the hope of voter stimulation from events like the predictions presentation, Sabato acknowledged multiple times midterm elections turnout tends toward an “absolute minimum.”

Sabato also acknowledged that the percentage differences of many of the races predicted were well within the margins of error.

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