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​​Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Predictions For All The Midterm Election's Big Races

Larry Sabato on the Walker Webcast

It is a strange, unsettling time for American politics.

In August, Quinnipiac University released a poll that showed that 69% of Democrats, 69% of Republicans  and 66% of Independents surveyed believe that American democracy is on the brink of collapsing. President Joe Biden called Tuesday’s midterm elections “one of the most important elections in our lifetime,” and Americans are on the edge of their seats like never before to see where the country is headed.

One American, however, has always had a pretty strong idea of how things will turn out. 

Larry Sabato is an American political scientist and political analyst. He is the Robert Kent Gooch professor of politics at the University of Virginia, where he is also the founder and director of the Center for Politics, which works to promote civic engagement. He also publishes Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an online newsletter that provides free political analysis and electoral projections that is known for its remarkably high accuracy in predicting the outcome of elections. 

This week, Sabato sat down with Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker on the Walker Webcast to talk about what lies ahead for American politics. 

Sabato’s Crystal Ball bills itself as a “comprehensive nonpartisan political analysis and handicapping newsletter,” and Walker asked Sabato how he stays nonpartisan in these highly partisan times. 

“Because we have a clear objective and that's to get people involved in politics,” Sabato answered. “We have only one interest, and that’s picking the winners.” 

A Ph.D. student of Sabato’s recently interviewed 1,000 supporters of former President Donald Trump and 1,000 Biden supporters about the outcome of the 2020 election, with some surprising results. Sabato said the finding that disturbed him the most was that 51% of the Trump supporters surveyed felt that all of the blue states should secede from the union, while 42% of Biden supporters said the same about the red states. 

“That's not a good thing if we’re going to hold together the United States,” Sabato said. “We've always had hard-fought campaigns and people feel strongly about their choices and their parties. But we did tend to come back together, if only for a while, around the winter, saluting the winner, congratulating the winner trying to work together as a country. Well, that's just gone.”

Sabato added that the fact that a large number of Americans still believe that Biden is not the legitimately elected president concerns him, and he stressed that there is no evidence, or as he put it, “none, none, none, none,” to support that claim. He said he believes that one way to bring back some confidence in elections is to abandon voting machines in favor of paper ballots that people can observe being counted and categorized, to eliminate false claims of hacking into machines.

Walker & Dunlop CEO Willy Walker on the Walker Webcast.

As for the upcoming elections, Sabato said that Florida has a reliable Republican majority, so he is confident that Gov. Ron DeSantis will keep his position. He also predicted that Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will stay in power over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. 

However, the Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada and Wisconsin gubernatorial elections are still toss-ups, Sabato said. Arizona is leaning Republican, as are Nevada and Oregon, but Oregon is a three-way race, which makes it harder to handicap, Sabato pointed out. Wisconsin has a very close race, but it will end up going for the Republican candidate, he said. Kansas is more complicated. 

“Kansas, you think, would be a slam dunk for the Republicans, but it's actually the one we're having the most trouble with,” he said. “Because you may recall after the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, there was a referendum in Kansas that ended up being 59% pro-choice in conservative Republican Kansas. That has helped the Democratic governor who got elected because Republicans were split four years ago. It's a close race.” 

Sabato mentioned two traditionally blue states — Massachusetts and Maryland — with two longstanding Republican governors who he believes have remained in power because their moderate views fit the states. In this upcoming election, however, Trump has gotten involved in these races, which will change things for voters, he said. 

“The Republican nominees in Massachusetts and Maryland — take this to the bank — are going to lose in a landslide,” he said. 

Walker brought up the much-discussed Pennsylvania Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Sabato said his team remains very undecided about it. 

“We’ve leaned it toward Fetterman, but it’s clear to me, at least, that he should have dropped out after he had that stroke,” Sabato said. “I have complete sympathy for him. I've had people in my family have strokes. I've got friends who have had strokes, most of us do, and I wish him all the best. But he is not in the condition to run against a TV star like Oz.” 

As for Arizona, Sabato has the state listed as “very, very light blue,” but he said he believes the governor’s race could go a long way toward determining whether Democrat Mark Kelly keeps his Senate seat or is defeated by Republican Blake Masters. 

Walker closed out the discussion by moving on to Twitter, and asking Sabato what the impact may be if Trump is allowed back on the platform now that Elon Musk owns the social media site. 

Sabato said that if Trump is able to once again tweet out to millions of followers, it will further the spread of inaccurate information. 

“You simply can't trust anything he says,” Sabato said. “You have to check it six ways to Sunday. Well, you put that back on there with his tens of millions of followers, and right there on Twitter, you have another source of dissension, another undermining of democracy. And we have enough of those already.” 

Next Wednesday's guest on the Walker Webcast will be Bobby Turner, principal and CEO of Turner Impact Capital. Register here.

This article was produced in collaboration between Walker & Dunlop and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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