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2009 News Archives


11th Annual American Democracy Conference: 2010 and Beyond!

University of Virginia Center for Politics and POLITICO to Host Elections Preview


12/01/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Democratic National Committee Chairman Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will deliver the keynote speeches at the American Democracy Conference sponsored by the University of Virginia Center for Politics and POLITICO. Kaine and Cornyn will offer their insights as key leaders and strategists for their respective parties, as well as their perspectives as elected officials who have run successful campaigns.

The 11th annual American Democracy Conference will be held at the Newseum in Washington, DC on Thursday, December 3 and will preview the 2010 midterm elections, look ahead to 2012, and examine the Obama administration’s first year. Keynote speeches will begin at 1 PM with panel discussions to follow until 5 PM, featuring elected officials, party insiders, key strategists, and prominent journalists. The conference is free and open to the public with advance registration, available at the Center for Politics' website: http://www.centerforpolitics.org/adc.html

Professor Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics, and John F. Harris, editor-in-chief of POLITICO, will each moderate panel discussions. The conference will also feature a special panel with the executive directors of the DCCC, NRCC, DSCC, and the NRSC, who will oversee their parties’ U.S. House and Senate campaigns in 2010.

Other panelists will include:

  • Mike Allen, Chief White House Correspondent for POLITICO
  • Paul Begala, advisor to President Clinton and CNN contributor
  • Roy Blunt, U.S. Representative (R-MO) and former Republican Whip
  • Alex Castellanos, Senior communications adviser to the RNC and CNN contributor
  • Tom Cole, U.S. Representative (R-OK) and former NRCC chairman
  • Roland Martin, CNN contributor and political columnist
  • Kiki McLean, Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton advisor
  • Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today
  • Jennifer Palmieri, former deputy press secretary to President Clinton
  • Leslie Sanchez, Republican strategist and former CNN contributor
  • Juan Williams, political analyst for NPR and Fox News

The American Democracy Conference grew out of the first National Post Election Conference in 1998. The conference examines not only the most recent election cycle, but also current campaigns, upcoming elections and prospects for the future of American democracy. The conference is based on the idea that elections are the seminal event in the life of a democracy, setting the direction of the country while shedding light on the state of America's political health.


U.S. Embassy in Rome Hosts Sabato Lecture Series


11/23/09| CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – With a parting address at the prestigious Societa per L'organizzazione Internationale, University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato concluded a U.S. State Department-sponsored lecture series in Rome, Italy on November 20. During the mission, Sabato spoke at prominent academic institutions, appeared on numerous national TV, print, and online media, and met with U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne and dozens of members of the Italian Senate and House of Deputies to deliver his trademark analysis of U.S. politics. The four-day visit shared the mission of the Center for Politics’ Global Perspectives on Democracy program by creating greater understanding of the U.S. political system and current political events among Italians.

Director, Larry J. Sabato on Italy Tour

Sabato sat for interviews with major Italian news media, appearing on the front page of the major Italian daily newspaper Il Revista and the nation’s most popular nightly talk news show Otto e Mezzo, which is often compared to 60 Minutes. The Il Revista interview covered President Barack Obama’s first year in office, the 2009 elections, and the Republican Party’s prospects in the 2010 midterm elections, and is available in Italian: http://bit.ly/77My43. Otto e Mezzo featured Sabato along with Italian journalists in a fast-paced discussion, simultaneously translated between Italian and English, of political scandal in the U.S. and Italy with video in Italian available online: http://bit.ly/5qL7Tw.

While in Italy, Sabato also gave a series of lectures to students, elected officials, and journalists. He delivered a keynote speech at the American Studies Center in Rome on “Obama and the U.S. One Year after the Elections.” In addition, he addressed a forum hosted by the independent political magazine Formiche, and participated in a seminar at the Italian Society for International Organization, which trains post-graduate students who wish to embark on diplomatic careers. Sabato also met with U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne, Italian members of Parliament, Italian Senators, and other dignitaries from the United States and Italy.


"Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance"

Set for PBS Broadcast Premiere


11/12/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA A new University of Virginia Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations film will premiere on Monday, November 16 at 9 PM, documenting the effects of Virginia’s "Massive Resistance" on school desegregation a half century ago. The film will be shown on WCVE PBS, which serves the Richmond area, and WHTJ PBS, serving the Charlottesville area. On November 23, the film will also be show on WVPT PBS, which serves the Shenandoah Valley.

The one-hour documentary, "Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance," explores the tragedies and triumphs of the children of Virginia who found themselves on the front lines of a cultural war that desegregated Virginia's public schools, and forever altered American history. "Locked Out" features personal interviews with former students, Virginia Governors Linwood Holton and Douglas Wilder, and recognized civil rights historians.

"Locked Out" was produced following the Center for Politics’ Virginia Political History Project conference this summer at the Virginia Capitol marking the 50th anniversary of the reopening of public schools that were closed because of Virginia’s "Massive Resistance" policies. Full transcripts of the summer conference are available on the Center for Politics website. In conjunction with the documentary, the Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative has also developed a new lesson plan on the fall of Massive Resistance for distribution to 50,000 teachers nationwide. All Youth Leadership Initiative lesson plans and teaching materials are free and available by registering online at www.youthleadership.net.

Following a mandate by the U.S. Supreme Court to desegregate, Virginia’s government instead chose to lead a movement called Massive Resistance that affected the lives of school children across most of the South, and left a permanent scar on the history of the entire nation. "Locked Out" offers first-hand accounts of the negative effects of this concerted abuse of public power and yet how it also paved the way for future progress. In 1989, 30 years after the fall of Massive Resistance, Virginia would become the first state to elect an African-American governor. In 2008, exactly 50 years after the first Virginia school was closed, Barack Obama carried the Commonwealth in the presidential election.


"Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance"

Virginia Film Festival Premiere in Charlottesville


11/07/09 | A new University of Virginia Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations film will premiere at the Virginia Film Festival on Saturday, November 7 at 5 PM, documenting the effects of Virginia’s "Massive Resistance" on school desegregation a half century ago. The film will be shown at Culbreth Theater on the grounds of the University of Virginia. Tickets are still available through the Virginia Film Festival website at http://www.vafilm.com. The one-hour documentary, "Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance," explores the tragedies and triumphs of the children of Virginia who found themselves on the front lines of a cultural war that desegregated Virginia's public schools, and forever altered American history.

Following the documentary screening on Saturday, there will be a live, panel discussion moderated by Professor Larry Sabato. The panel will feature former Governor Douglas Wilder, "Locked Out" director Mason Mills and former students from each of the five localities affected by Massive Resistance. They include Dr. Delores Brown, Norfolk; Faye Coleman Hoes, Warren County; Michael Jones, Arlington; Donald Martin, Charlottesville; and Rita Moseley, Farmville. Many of these students and experts are featured through interviews in "Locked Out" as well.

"Locked Out" was produced following the Center for Politics’ Virginia Political History conference this summer at the Virginia Capitol marking the 50th anniversary of the reopening of public schools that were closed because of Virginia’s "Massive Resistance" policies. Full transcripts of the summer conference are available on the Center for Politics website at http://www.centerforpolitics.org/downloads/vphp09transcript1.pdf. In conjunction with the documentary, the Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative has also developed a new lesson plan on the fall of Massive Resistance for distribution to 50,000 teachers nationwide. All Youth Leadership Initiative lesson plans and teaching materials are free and available by registering online at http://www.youthleadership.net.

Following a mandate by the U.S. Supreme Court to desegregate, Virginia’s government instead chose to lead a movement called Massive Resistance that affected the lives of school children across most of the South, and left a permanent scar on the history of the entire nation. "Locked Out" offers first-hand accounts of the negative effects of this concerted abuse of public power and yet how it also paved the way for future progress. In 1989, 30 years after the fall of Massive Resistance, Virginia would become the first state to elect an African-American governor. In 2008, exactly 50 years after the first Virginia school was closed, Barack Obama carried the Commonwealth in the presidential election.

"Locked Out" will air statewide on November 16 at 9 p.m. on most PBS stations. In February 2010, the documentary will be distributed to PBS stations nationwide in conjunction with Black History Month.


Bob McDonnell, Jon Corzine Win Student Mock Election

313,000 ballots cast in Youth Leadership Initiative’s online student mock election


10/30/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has won the 2009 Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election, besting Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds by a 51% to 44% margin. In New Jersey, Democrat Jon Corzine defeated Republican Chris Christie, 45% to 33%, with Independent Chris Daggett taking 12% of the student vote in that state. Students in K-12 schools across the country chose between statewide candidates tailored to their state and weighed in on policy questions through online voting that began October 19 and ended Thursday, October 29. Students in Virginia and New Jersey voted only for candidates that will appear on state ballots in the general election. In total, over 313,000 votes were cast in the 2009 Youth Leadership Initiative mock election, the only student voting program offered nationally this year.

"Students should be commended for taking interest in America’s government at such a young age and citizens of all ages should follow their example," said Meg Heubeck, the Youth Leadership Initiative’s Director of Instruction. "Thanks to the teachers who utilize the mock election, the next generation of voters has already begun a lifelong habit of voting."

The Youth Leadership Initiative is the signature civic education program of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Its annual mock election is provided as a free service and is the nation’s largest student-only mock election. The online balloting process allows participating teachers to customize the electronic ballots to match those of their students' home voting locations.

The YLI Mock Election is an academic exercise. It is not a scientific survey and is not designed to predict the outcome of the general election. The views expressed in the results are those of participating students only, and do not constitute any endorsement or prediction of the regular general election by either the Youth Leadership Initiative or the University of Virginia Center for Politics.


Student Mock Election Starts Today

Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative annual nationwide mock election begins


10/19/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Polls opened today for the nation’s largest, student-only mock election, run annually by the Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative. The secure online polls are open from today, October 19 until October 29 with results released on Friday, October 30. Students in over 23,000 classrooms across the country will have the opportunity to vote on issue questions about the economy, mass transit, national defense, and social security that came out of student E-Congress proposals from the past year. In Virginia and New Jersey, the two states that have statewide elections this year, students will also vote for their preferred candidate for governor, while teachers across the country can customize their ballots to include local races.

The Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election is the largest secure, student-only mock election in the nation. The 2009 mock election builds upon the success of the Youth Leadership Initiative’s largest-ever mock election in 2008, which included over 1.1 million students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and American schools abroad. Throughout this year’s two-week voting period, students will learn about the election process firsthand by casting electronic cyber-ballots specifically tailored to each student’s home voting location. To that end, the Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election is strictly an academic exercise and is not designed or intended to be predictive of the results of the general election.

Meg Heubeck, Director of Instruction for the Youth Leadership Initiative said, "The Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election is an opportunity for young people to get their first taste of voting. By becoming engaged with the civic process from a young age, students develop a lifelong connection to, and respect for, our system of democracy." Scott Rolf, a teacher at River Valley Middle School in Jefferson, Indiana said, "Our school appreciates the opportunity to participate in the most important process students will ever engage in as a U.S. citizen. What a great way to draw our youth into the Democratic Process."


Ambassador, Sri Lankan citizens to discuss state of nation and democracy

"Sri Lanka at the Crossroads" event will feature former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, live video report from citizens in Colombo


Former Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ashley Wills CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- As part of its new international program, Global Perspectives on Democracy, the University of Virginia Center for Politics will host the Honorable Ashley Wills, former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, on Thursday, October 15 at the Colonnade Club on the Grounds of the University of Virginia. The event, entitled "Sri Lanka at the Crossroads: War, Peace, and Democracy," will be free and open to the public and will take place from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. Ambassador Wills will speak on his experience in Sri Lanka and the future prospects for this nation, which is now emerging from a 26-year long civil war which officially ended in May. Ambassador Wills’ speech will be followed by a presentation from two Center for Politics staff members, Meg Heubeck and Daman Irby, who recently returned from a month-long stay in Sri Lanka sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. In Sri Lanka, Heubeck and Irby provided instruction on civic participation, completing an exchange begun this spring by the Center for Politics’ new Global Perspectives on Democracy initiative.

Following the speech and presentation, three Sri Lankan citizens will share their experiences and efforts with an audience half a world away via a live video report from Sri Lanka. They will speak about their organization, Democracy Corps-Sri Lanka, founded after the group traveled from the South Asian nation to Charlottesville on the first leg of the exchange program in March. Democracy Corps-Sri Lanka is modeled after a program developed by the Center for Politics’ Youth Leadership Initiative which combines community service and politics into a unique civic education curriculum.

Sri Lanka is a south Asian island nation in the Indian Ocean, located to the southeast of India. Tensions between the Sri Lankan government and a separatist group known as the Tamil Tigers erupted into war in 1983, with tens of thousands of people from both sides dying during the conflict. The Sri Lankan civil war finally came to an end in late May 2009.


U.Va. Center for Politics honored by PBS stations for documentaries

Community Idea Stations grant Center first Distinguished Program Partner award


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- The University of Virginia Center for Politics was honored this week with the first ever "Distinguished Partner Award," given by the Community Idea Stations. This award was bestowed by WHTJ Charlottesville and WCVE Richmond, the PBS stations which serve the Richmond and Charlottesville areas under the banner of the Community Idea Stations. They recognized the Center for Politics for a decade of partnership, producing eight documentaries, with a ninth film to premiere this November.

This fall, "Locked Out: The Fall of Massive Resistance" will air on PBS stations across the state of Virginia, to be followed by a national release in conjunction with Black History Month in February. The most recent documentary from the Center for Politics was "Questioning the Constitution," a fresh look at the historic document featuring prominent political figures including former Senator John Warner, Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, NAACP chairman Julian Bond, and University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato. Earlier this year, "Questioning the Constitution" won the Award of Excellence from the International Academy of Visual Arts.

The string of award-winning documentaries began with the "No Higher Honor" series in 2000 focusing on modern Virginia governors from Mills Godwin to Gerald Baliles. The Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations then collaborated on "Wilder: An American First" and "Sarge Reynolds, A Documentary," which chronicled the lives of two of the Commonwealth’s most important leaders, Governor Doug Wilder and Lieutenant Governor Sarge Reynolds.


U.Va. Center for Politics to host Constitutional Day event on U.Va. Grounds

Free documentary screening in Newcomb Ballroom on Thursday, September 17 at noon


CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA- The Center for Politics and Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy are hosting a Constitution Day celebration at the University of Virginia on Thursday, Sept. 17 at noon. This free event will be held at the Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

The co-sponsored event will feature a showing of the Center for Politics' latest documentary, "Questioning the Constitution." The film looks at the development of the constitution, how it has been interpreted and questions whether the constitution should be reformed. This documentary was produced by WCVE PBS in partnership with the Center for Politics.

U.Va. law professor A.E. Dick Howard, who appears in the film, will give brief remarks before the showing. Widely acknowledged as an expert in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutionalism and the Supreme Court, A. E. Dick Howard is the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

Constitution Day is a federally sanctioned observance recognizing the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. It was established in 2004 by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Questions? Please e-mail cfp-programs@virginia.edu or call (434) 243-3540.


Sabato’s Crystal Ball predicts sizeable GOP gains in 2010

Nation’s most accurate political website forecasts GOP pick-up of 20-30 House seats


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball published today its initial U.S. House race rankings, detailing district-by-district the likely outcome of the 2010 midterm elections. In a preliminary projection, the Crystal Ball predicts the Republican Party will pick up between 20 and 30 seats in that election, a sizeable gain, but insufficient to retake the majority. The Crystal Ball reached this conclusion after intense analysis of all 435 U.S. House districts, rating each race on a scale ranging from “Safe Democratic” to “Safe Republican.” The full article can be read here.

In 2006, the most recent midterm election, the Crystal Ball predicted that Democrats would pick up 29 seats, the exact number of their actual gain on Election Day. The Crystal Ball was the only publication to correctly predict the pick-up, leading the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism to label the Crystal Ball as the most accurate political website in the nation. Over its lifetime, Sabato’s Crystal Ball has a 98% accuracy rate in predicting U.S. House races, which is unrivaled among political prognosticators.

The Crystal Ball’s race ratings also identify 13 "toss-up" races which will likely be the most fiercely contested in the country: AL-2, ID-1, IL-10, MD-1, MS-1, NH-1, NM-2, NY-29, OH-1, OH-15, PA-6, PA-7, and VA-5. The complete ratings chart, with all 104 competitive races, is available here.

Larry J. Sabato says, "In 2010, a Republican wave may well eliminate many of the Democratic gains in 2006 and 2008. This explains why the Obama administration is pushing as hard as it is to accomplish healthcare reform and other major goals before the 2010 midterm election. If the economy comes back strongly and President Obama’s approval ratings begin to rise substantially before November 2010, the current Republican tide may recede a bit, enabling some of today’s tenuous Democratic House incumbents to hold on."

Crystal Ball House Race Editor Isaac Wood adds, “The upcoming midterm election looks to be a reversal of recent Democratic gains, potentially in a big way. In spite of all their optimism, however, Republicans will probably fall short of the crucial 40-seat pick-up they need to retake the majority.” Both Sabato and Wood are available for comment.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball is a weekly e-mail newsletter and comprehensive website featuring in-depth political analysis and the nation’s most accurate election predictions. It can be found online at CenterforPolitics.org/Crystalball where readers can sign up for free weekly e-mail updates. The Crystal Ball is a publication of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.


U.Va. Center for Politics to host Senator Bob Graham

Former senator and intelligence expert Bob Graham to speak on eve of 9/11 anniversary


Senator Bob GrahamCHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- The Center for Politics will host a discussion with former United States Senator Bob Graham (FL), a foremost expert in counterterrorism and intelligence and author of the new book America, The Owner’s Manual: Making Government Work for You. Senator Graham will speak on Thursday, September 10 at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Hall (Hotel C) on the West Range of the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The event is free and open to the public. Members of the media are invited to attend the event and should contact Isaac Wood at isaac@virginia.edu to reserve space. Senator Graham, who will speak on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, from 2001-2002. Among his signature legislative achievements was cosponsoring the bill which created the position of Director of National Intelligence. Since the 9/11 attacks, he has been a vocal advocate for reform within the intelligence community, writing Intelligence Matters in 2004 which provides a revealing look at the intelligence failures leading to 9/11.

In America, The Owner’s Manual, Senator Graham tackles civic engagement with a novel hands-on approach, encouraging citizens to get involved in politics and their government. The book goes beyond the typical theoretical treatment of politics, imploring students to take on the issues that are important to them, with America, The Owner’s Manual serving as a roadmap to guide them along the way.

Senator Bob Graham was governor of Florida for two terms before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, where he served for 18 years. In 2003 he launched a campaign for president, before becoming one of the top candidates for the Democratic vice presidential nomination. Since retiring from public service in 2005, Senator Graham has taught at Harvard University and he now chairs the board of the University of Florida’s Graham Center for Public Service.

Founded in 1998 by political analyst and Professor Larry J. Sabato, the University of Virginia Center for Politics (www.centerforpolitics.org) is a non-partisan institute that seeks to promote the value of politics, improve civics education, and increase civic participation through comprehensive research, pragmatic analysis, and innovative educational programs.


Center for Politics Staff Return From Successful Sri Lanka Trip


AUGUST 2009 | CHARLOTTESVILLE - In conjunction with the Center’s Global Perspectives on Democracy program, two members of the Center for Politics staff recently spent three weeks in Sri Lanka, spreading the Center’s message, "Politics is a good thing," in that fragile democracy. While in Sri Lanka, Meg Heubeck and Daman Irby took part in a variety of site visits, with organizations and individuals representing marginalized communities, organizations promoting understanding and building bridges between groups, and universities and youth engagement programs. In addition, the five exchange participants, including the two from the Center for Politics, visited several projects that were the direct result of the first leg of the exchange, which took place at the University of Virginia this spring. As the funding for the exchange was provided by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, they also visited and kept in close contact with the U.S. Embassy staff in Colombo. The itinerary had the participants spend the first and third weeks of the exchange in Colombo. The second week was spent traveling across the southeastern two thirds of the country to cities such as Kandy, Dambulla, Trincomalee, the war-torn village of Mutur, the ethnically volatile city of Ampara, Pottuvil at Arugam Bay, Hambantota, Matara, Galle and points in between.

School Children in Mutur

The first of many site visits took place on Monday, August 3, 2009 at the Foundation for Co Existence in Colombo led by Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe where the participants viewed an exhibit on the conflict history of Sri Lanka. The aim of the FCE is to carry the message of coexistence to the youth who are often unaware of the history of the nation’s conflicts. It was an appropriate first stop for the team from the Center for Politics who found that reaching and connecting with youth was a challenge shared by both the Center for Politics and FCE. Other site visits included serving as panelists for a discussion on the political systems of America and Sri Lanka at the Peradeniye University, meetings with the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka and the Business for Peace Alliance, and a visit to Equal Ground, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve gay rights in Sri Lanka. The exchange participants spent times in Sri Lankan homes in Trincomalee, and visited Relief International’s micro-loan program in Pottuvil, an underprivileged community of Sanitation workers in Hambantota, and witnessed the Kandy Esela Perahera which is the most important festival of the year.

The five exchange participants during the third week of the exchange hosted two days of workshops that were attended by around 60 young Sri Lankans of varying backgrounds and chamber of commerce representatives from across the country. Center staff members Meg Heubeck and Daman Irby provided instruction on civic engagement in a democracy, advocacy, and free web technologies and also served on a panel with the other three participants where they answered a range of questions from the audience. Exchange participants from the group of twenty Sri Lankans who visited the U.S. in March 2009 also participated in the workshops and took the opportunity to renew the friendship made in the U.S. with the American participants. While the schedule throughout the three week period was intense, the Center for Politics staff left with a broad and diverse level of knowledge related to the people, successes and challenges of Sri Lanka, and left a little of the Center’s vision behind as well.


Center for Politics Staff Members Selected For U.S. State Department Exchange Program to Sri Lanka

Will Travel to South Asia to Increase Civic Engagement


7/08/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE - Two staff members of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, Margaret Heubeck and Daman Irby, have been selected to participate in a three-week exchange to Sri Lanka in August as part of a State Department effort to increase civic engagement in the fragile democracy. The trip is a complement to the Center's new Global Perspectives on Democracy (GPD) initiative, which was launched this past March. Heubeck is the Director of Instruction for the Center's Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI), and Irby is the Center's Director of Operations and YLI Deputy Director of Instruction.

"Teaching Sri Lankan citizens the value and promise of democracy is a crucial step towards moving their country beyond war," said Heubeck. "I am honored to be a part of such an important program and I am grateful for the support of the State Department, Relief International, and our other partners." Professor Larry. J. Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics, added his enthusiastic support for the initiative. "I believe that civic education holds real promise for citizens in every country," said Sabato, "The mission of the Center for Politics has always been to show people that promise and make it a reality. This is one more step in that direction."


"Questioning the Constitution" Documentary Wins International Award of Excellence

International Academy of the Visual Arts Honors Center for Politics and Community Ideas Station Produced Film


5/28/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE - "Questioning the Constitution," a 2008 documentary produced by the University of Virginia Center for Politics and the Community Ideas Stations, has received the Award of Excellence, given annually by the International Academy of Visual Arts (IAVA). The Award of Excellence is the IAVA's highest distinction. The organization receives more than 9,000 nominations each year for its communicator awards from companies and agencies of all sizes - giving these prizes one of the largest nomination pools in the world.

The documentary "Questioning the Constitution" takes an in-depth look at constitutional reform. The film explores the development of the American Constitution, how it has been interpreted through the years, and goes on to question whether the document should be reformed. Featured commentators in "Questioning the Constitution" include UVA Center for Politics director Larry J. Sabato, former Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, ACLU President Nadine Strossen, and constitutional scholar A.E. Dick Howard. The film was made by Mason Mills, the award-winning producer/director of "Wilder: An American First," which he also created in partnership with the Center for Politics.


Center's Youth Leadership Initiative Hosts Dinner Table Discussion

Educators, Legislators and Center Staff Meet in Richmond to Discuss Communication and Policy


5/07/09 | RICHMOND

On the evening of May 7th, a group of Richmond City educators, Virginia legislators, and staff from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Center for Politics gathered in Richmond for the Youth Leadership Initiative’s inaugural YLI Dinner Table Discussion. This first of a planned series of interactive events, made possible by a generous contribution from Ukrop’s Markets and hosted by the Times-Dispatch, brought together teachers from the Richmond public schools, former Virginia Lieutenant Governor John Hager, Delegate Jennifer McClellan, state Senator Ryan McDougle, and Andrew Cain, political editor of the Times-Dispatch, to discuss state fiscal and education policy. The teachers were able to spend several hours sharing thoughts and observations directly with policy makers in an intimate and open setting, and the political practitioners were able to convey to the teachers the most effective way for students to communicate with officials, especially during the General Assembly session.

The next YLI Dinner Table Discussion is being planned for the fall of 2009, following the same format.


Center Director Larry Sabato Participates in Washington Post Online Discussion

Sabato discusses Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's decision to switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat


View full text of online Q&A session.


Center for Politics Hosts Brit Hume at U.Va.

Sabato’s American Politics Class Welcomes the Famed Journalist


4/20/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE - University of Virginia Professor Larry J. Sabato and the Center for Politics will welcome journalist, commentator, and former news anchor Brit Hume to Sabato's 400-student Introduction to American Politics lecture class on Wednesday, April 22nd at 3:00 p.m., in Wilson Hall Auditorium on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This event is hosted and sponsored by the U.Va. Center for Politics.

Brit Hume

Hume recently retired after 35 years as one of the nation’s preeminent journalists. He began his career as a reporter for The Hartford Times and The Baltimore Evening Sun, before moving to a position with syndicated columnist Jack Anderson. From 1973-1996, Hume worked for ABC News as a consultant for its documentary division, as a Capitol Hill correspondent, and finally, as the network’s Chief White House correspondent. In 1996, Hume moved to Fox News Network where he remained until his 2009 retirement. At Fox, Hume served as the news channel’s Washington managing editor while simultaneously anchoring the network’s coverage for every presidential election from 1996-2008. Hume also anchored his own show, Special Report with Brit Hume, which became one of the highest rated political programs on cable television. In retirement he continues to participate as a panelist on “Fox News Sunday.”

Hume earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1965. He has received many awards during his career, including the 2003 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and a 1991 Emmy Award for his coverage of the first Gulf War. He also has written two books, Inside Story and Death and Mines. He is currently a board member of the U.Va. Alumni Association.


Center for Politics Hosts Senator Mark Warner at U.Va.

Larry J. Sabato’s American Politics Class Welcomes the Virginia Senator


Mark Warner

4/13/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE - University of Virginia Professor Larry J. Sabato and the Center for Politics will welcome Virginia Senator Mark R. Warner to Sabato's 400-student Introduction to American Politics class on Wednesday, April 15 at 3:00 p.m., in Wilson Hall Auditorium on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This event will be hosted and sponsored by the U.Va. Center for Politics.

Senator Warner was elected to serve Virginia in the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2008 — winning 65 percent of the vote, all of the state’s 11 Congressional Districts, and 128 of Virginia’s 134 counties and cities. In the Senate, he serves on the Budget Committee, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Rules and Administration Committee. Warner was Governor of Virginia from 2002-2006. During those years, Warner chaired the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors’ Association, and the Education Commission of the States. While he was the commonwealth’s chief executive, Virginia earned the title “Best Managed State in the Nation” from Governing magazine.

Prior to holding public office, Warner started and led several highly successful businesses — including the cellular phone company Nextel, and Capital Cellular Corporation. Warner earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science from George Washington University in 1977. He received a law degree from Harvard University in 1980.


Larry Sabato’s Latest Book, The Year of Obama, Set for April Release

Original Essays From U.Va Professor and Top Scholars


4/09/09 | CHARLOTTESVILLE - An unprecedented fusion of political, social, and demographic trends combined to produce the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. U.Va. Professor Larry J. Sabato’s The Year of Obama: How Barack Obama Won the White House tosses aside conventional wisdom and substitutes thoughtful, deeper, and — until now, ignored — interpretations of the events and the environment that led to the election of America’s 44th president.

Year of Obama

In The Year of Obama, Sabato brings together the nation’s most perceptive observers of American politics, each offering different perspectives. The resulting mosaic provides readers with a comprehensive look at the 2008 election.

Intended for both the casual reader and the classroom, The Year of Obama’s all-original essays examine every facet of the electoral process, from the primaries to the general election. Chapters include Sabato’s interpretation of the election results, focusing on raw votes, regional patterns, and exit poll data; a look at the importance and influence of new media in determining the election; a tour through the maze of political money by Michael E. Toner, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission; and an examination of the 2008 Congressional elections and their impact on the national race, by Professor Bruce Larson of Gettysburg College.

The Year of Obama is published by Longman, an imprint of Pearson. The book is currently available at the University of Virginia Bookstore, and will be released nationally April 15.


Center Director Larry J. Sabato Invited to London for Series of Lectures

Sabato scheduled to appear in Great Britain March 2 through March 5


2/27/09 | LONDON - The University of Virginia Center for Politics is pleased to announce that its director, Professor Larry J. Sabato, has been invited to London for a series of lectures. On Tuesday, March 3, Sabato will speak in Westminster Hall to the British-American Parliamentary Group at 12:30 p.m. GMT. On Wednesday, March 4, Sabato will deliver the British Library’s prestigious Bryant Lecture, with the program set to begin at 6:15 p.m. GMT. On Thursday, March 5, he will headline events with the Foreign Press Association at 11:30 a.m. GMT and the English Speaking Union at 12:30 p.m. GMT. During the trip Sabato will announce a new Center for Politics pilot program, the Global Perspectives on Democracy Initiative, aimed at building an international, democracy education/civic engagement program to benefit citizens of democracies around the world.


Center for Politics Hosts Governor Brian Schweitzer at U.Va.

Larry J. Sabato's American Politics Class Welcomes Montana Governor


Brian Schweitzer

2/25/09 | Charlottesville, VA - University of Virginia Professor Larry J. Sabato and the Center for Politics are pleased to welcome Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to Sabato's 400-student Introduction to American Politics lecture class on Wednesday, February 25 at 3:00 p.m., in Wilson Hall Auditorium, on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This event is hosted and sponsored by the Center for Politics.

Schweitzer was elected to his second term as Montana's chief executive in November 2008. The Wall Street Journal has described him as having a "well-spoken, gun-owning, dog-loving, native-ritual-doing, shot-of-whiskey-drinking, true-west style." A farmer and rancher by trade, Schweitzer had held no elected office prior to being inaugurated in 2005 as Montana's first Democratic Governor in 20 years. During his tenure Governor Schweitzer has invested more in both K-12 and higher education than any previous Montana governor, while also capping tuition of that state's colleges and universities; has increased the number of children receiving health care through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to more than 16,000; and his fiscal policies have seen Montana receive the first upgrade in its bond rating in 26 years.

The Governor earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international agronomy from Colorado State University in 1978, and Master of Science degree in soil science from Montana State University in 1980.


Center for Politics Chief of Staff, Ken Stroupe, reviews the history of gerrymandering in the Commonwealth of Virginia


2/24/09 | Charlottesville, VA - Ken Stroupe, U.Va Center for Politics Chief of Staff and member of the state Commission on Civics Education recently published, in conjunction with the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center, an extensive review of the history of gerrymandering in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Gerrymandering isn't always the reason for low competition and low turnout. But, "to the extent this form of political manipulation results in voter apathy and suppression, it serves as a significant limitation on one of the greatest exercises of liberty possessed by the citizens of this state and nation," Stroupe writes.

Download Gerrymandering's Long History In Virginia: Will This Decade Mark The End?