CHARLESTON, W.Va. — One of the nation’s most prominent political pundits was the latest guest Wednesday night at University of Charleston’s for its Speaker Series.
Dr. Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and author of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, boasts a 98 percent accuracy since 2000 in predicting various races for Congress, governor and president. Right now, he says the race for the White House between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is too close to call.
“They (many experts) really didn’t see Trump as a likely winner. Well he may not win but he’s going to come closer than many people thought,” Sabato said. “It’s a truly competitive race, and Clinton will be able to take nothing for granted all the way to Election Day.”
Sabato said he hadn’t seen a race like this one in his lifetime, and Donald Trump was the main reason why.
“Certainly the most dramatically different is (Trump). TV reality star, and a billionaire who has never been in public office at all comes in and undertakes a hostile takeover of the Republican Party; becomes their nominee. And a lot of Republicans are still trying to figure out whether they want to support him or not.”
Add in Hillary Clinton opposing him, and it makes for a very polarizing, intriguing race said Sabato.
“She herself is very controversial. She has been in the public eye, in the headlines, for 25 years,” he said. “Which is a very long time to be as prominent as she has been. You really have to go back to Richard Nixon, and even (he) wasn’t active for 25 years at the national level.”
When speaking in public about the race, Sabato said the question he gets most often is how Trump and Clinton wound up with their respective nominations.
“People say ‘how did we end up with these two candidates?’ And my answer is because the smaller number of people who voted in primaries are the ones who determine this. If you’re unhappy with it, remember that in four years.”
Sabato said the race would come down to anywhere from seven to a dozen battleground states, noting that essentially “you could call 40 states tonight.” But he expected the presidential race to be a nail biter until the end.
“I think this will be a contest that you will have to follow not just day-to-day, but hour-to-hour,” he declared.”
Sabato spoke at UC’s Geary Auditorium for about 45 minutes Wednesday night.