Sabato Right on the Mark in ’08 Election

Politics Is a Good Thing.

By Cordel Faulk
Larry Sabato

Larry Sabato

In 2006 the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism named Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball the web's most accurate political prognosticator. Election Day 2008 proved another good one for Professor Sabato as he again hit the electoral-prediction mark right near dead center. And since lovers of politics also tend to be fond of data, here are the numbers, so they can speak for themselves:



Electoral College

Crystal Ball Pre-election Projection: Barack Obama 364, McCain 174
Actual Result: Barack Obama 365, McCain 173



U.S. Senate

• The Crystal Ball correctly predicted all 34 Senate contests that have been decided as of this
writing (... and someday we'll know the result of the Minnesota Senate contest, too).



• The Crystal Ball correctly predicted all 11 gubernatorial contests.


U.S. House

Crystal Ball Pre-election Projection: Democrats gain 26 seats
Actual Results: Democrats gain 21 seats


I often get the question, "How does Sabato do so well predicting election results before they happen?" I'll let our friends in on a secret: He doesn't actually use a crystal ball. He relies mainly on hard work. Sabato was on sabbatical this past fall, and he spent much of his time on the road getting a feel for what was happing in states, districts, and neighborhoods far and wide. I also know he would want me to lavish praise on what he has called "the world's best political research team," consisting of Isaac Wood, Paul Wiley, Daniel Keyserling, and Michael Baudinet, as well as student research interns Bayless Sword, Prashanth Parameswaran, and Robert Dressel. 

Another question we at the Center often hear is, "What does Professor Sabato do after all the big election contests are decided?" Well, he has just finished editing a book about the 2008 campaign, "The Year of Obama," and now he's doing what every political junkie is doingsifting through data about the 2009 and 2010 elections. It's always an election year somewhere.