Sabatos Crystal Ball

Archive for December, 2011


, U.Va. Center for Politics

With the Iowa caucuses only five days away, we at the Crystal Ball wanted to suggest some possible electoral scenarios that could play out next Tuesday and beyond. Because we love history, and because the past is often prologue, each scenario has some historical precedent: Scenario 1: Win in Iowa starts frontrunner on path to […]

Notes on the State of Politics

Ben Nelson and the Senate calculus Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) decision to retire makes a Republican takeover of the Senate a little more likely, but just a little more. It does not dramatically change the Senate landscape. Why? Because Nelson could easily have lost if he ran again. Still, out of deference to the powers […]


Next week, we are pleased to start our exclusive, online video series featuring University of Virginia Center for Politics Director and Crystal Ball founder Larry J. Sabato. We expect to post our first edition on Wednesday following the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday night. We will link to the video in next Thursday’s Crystal Ball, where […]

The Anti-Incumbent Election Myth

Or why you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a "triple flip" election

, Senior Columnist

Congress is very unpopular. In November, according to the Gallup Poll, only 13% of Americans approved of the job that Congress was doing. That tied the record set in October for the lowest approval rating in the history of the Gallup Poll. Moreover, according to another recent Gallup Poll, only 20% of Americans believe that […]

Notes on the state of politics

Primary date musical chairs With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Republican presidential primary battle as we approach Iowa, at least the schedule for primaries and caucuses is set in stone, right? Guess again. It turns out that even the calendar is keeping us on our toes this campaign cycle. Ohio and Texas, two major […]

The Supremes v. Obamacare: Will the Court Decide the 2012 Presidential Election?

, Guest Columnist

The late Justice William Brennan, a master at marshalling Supreme Court majorities, knew how to count votes before deciding to accept a case. His colleague Justice Arthur Goldberg once thought he had secured Brennan’s agreement to contribute one of four votes required under the court’s rules to grant an appeal. Goldberg was stunned when Brennan […]

2012 GUBERNATORIAL UPDATE: In Wisconsin, Walker hears footsteps

, U.Va. Center for Politics

The four gubernatorial contests of 2011 have now passed, and despite some late drama — in the form of a closer-than-expected finish in the West Virginia special election — they all went as expected: Republicans retained seats in Mississippi and Louisiana, and Democrats kept control in West Virginia and Kentucky. That leaves 11 races to […]

Timing is Everything: When Could We See an Independent Candidate in 2012?

, Political Analyst, U.Va. Center for Politics

Much remains to be decided in determining the dramatis personae in next November’s 57th production of the American presidential election. Will it be Obama vs. Romney? Will it be Obama vs. Gingrich? Or could Obama face off against, as Rhodes Cook recently discussed, someone else entirely? Those questions will be answered in the coming months. […]


, Senior Columnist

Conventional wisdom is that the Republican presidential field is set, and that it is much too late for a new candidate to enter the race. In years past, that would be absolutely correct. Over the last few decades, dozens of primaries and caucuses have been shoe-horned into the opening weeks of the election year, with […]

Notes on the State of Politics

Gingrich grabs lead in Hawkeye State Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, also a former college history professor, has written a number of alternate history novels. But the plots of his re-imaginations of World War II and the Civil War would pale in comparison to the potentially very real story of his comeback from […]

In the race for the Senate, Democrats show signs of life

, U.Va Center for Politics

The Senate’s curious and byzantine rules and traditions are well explained in Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate, part of his sprawling, multi-volume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson (the fourth volume is scheduled to be released next year). Johnson, through his own cunning and ruthlessness, was arguably the most powerful Senate leader ever, as he […]