Sabato: And the next
came from on Grounds and off. Students, faculty, administrators,
townfolk, and even elected officials packed Wilson Hall's auditorium
came to hear political pundit Larry Sabato, government professor
and director of U.Va.'s Center
for Governmental Studies, offer his views on the 2000 election
a week before the balloting in an event billed as "Larry
Sabato's Crystal Ball."
charmed, he entertained, he made them laugh. Finally, when it
came time to call the George W. Bush-Al Gore race for the White
House, he declared ...
too close to call.
really could go either way," he said. "Anyone who says
this is over is just dead wrong."
color-coded state-by-state maps of the U.S. projected on the screen
behind him, Sabato said that as of Oct. 30, 243 electoral votes
were either solidly in Bush's column or leaning that way, with
207 for Gore and 88 still rated as "toss-ups." A candidate
needs 270 votes for election.
and Gore not so different in the politics of character
W. Bush has been unable to distinguish himself from Al Gore
as the more virtuous presidential candidate, despite the
history of accusation surrounding Gore and the Clinton administration,
a survey from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture
found. The U.Va. institute has been conducting public opinion
polls on American political culture, including how important
morality and character are in political leadership.
of 1,200 telephone calls, 80 percent of those interviewed
agreed that Bush is a man of character, as compared to 74
percent saying Gore is a man of character. Bush is considered
6 percent more likely to tell the truth than Gore (45 percent
compared to 39 percent). Gore is considered 3 percent more
likely to be involved in a scandal, 37 percent to 34 percent.
Those percentage points are barely significant, statistically
speaking, according to the Center for Survey Research, which
conducted the survey for the institute.
speaking generally of political leadership, people show
more mistrust. Almost half agreed that politicians have
less moral character than the average American.
who has visited 37 states since May, sees the South and much of
the West as going solidly for Bush, with a wall of support stretching
from Texas northward to North Dakota. Gore, however, has the edge
in several populous states, including California, New York and
most of New England, plus the upper Midwest states of Iowa, Illinois
and Minnesota. The major toss-up states include Michigan, Florida,
Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
candidate has two major factors going for him, Sabato said. Gore
benefits from peace and prosperity, while Bush gets a boost from
Gore's association with the Clinton scandals and from his more
close, and things [do] change in the last seven days," Sabato
said, noting that the lead has already changed hands several times
-- most recently after the debates, which Gore may have won on
points, but lost on personality, he said.
went through a handful of possibilities. A "Bush bump"
in the campaign's final week -- an unforeseen factor surfacing
that is in Bush's favor -- could give him as many as 370 electoral
votes. A "Gore bump," perhaps originating from President
Clinton, could give the vice president as many as 333 votes.
needs Clinton," Sabato declared. "Clinton can make the
case for Gore in three minutes, and Gore can't make that case
in three hours. ... It may be too late, but maybe it isn't."
even went over a "nightmare" scenario -- his personal
favorite -- under which there could be a 269-269 tie in the Electoral
College, perhaps throwing the election into the House of Representatives.
Such a scenario might spawn a reform movement, which Sabato said
would be unlikely to succeed because of the extreme process needed
to amend the Constitution.
of Sabato's other predictions:
Former Gov. George Allen, a Republican, appears to have a narrow
edge over Democratic incumbent Charles Robb in Virginia's U.S.
Senate race. In order to win, Robb needs substantial support from
the African-American community and from Northern Virginia.
It is "very likely" that Republicans will maintain control
of the Senate. The House of Representatives is more volatile;
if Gore wins, or if the combination of Gore and Ralph Nader votes
totals 51 or 52 percent, the House could switch to Democratic
dominance; if Bush wins big, the House should remain Republican.
First Lady Hillary Clinton will likely turn back the challenge
of Republican Rick Lazio in New York, the highest-profile Senate
race in the nation.
Turnout should surpass the 49 percent of the last presidential
election in 1996, and could approach 55 percent, most likely falling
in the 52 to 53 percent range. Many undecided voters will not
vote. "They resolve their conflict by being busy on Election
Day," Sabato said.
A Bush victory could result in a Cabinet position for Virginia
Gov. Jim Gilmore, an early and active Bush supporter. "Gilmore
wants to be attorney general, and he is on the short list,"
Sabato said. "We'll see. Bush owes him a lot."
final pre-election prediction map will be posted Nov. 6 on the
Center for Governmental Studies' Web site (http://www.virginia.edu/govstudies/),