"Politics is a good thing!" … is the slogan of Dr. Larry J. Sabato. According to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sabato is "probably the most quoted college professor in the land," while the Washington Post called him "the Mark McGwire of political analysts" and he is dubbed by Fox News Channel as "America's favorite political scientist." More recently, the Washingtonian magazine has called him the "Dr. Phil of American politics." As founder and director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, Dr. Sabato bridges the gap between the ivory tower and the real world on issues of critical importance to American democracy and the challenges facing our political process.
The Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, Dr. Sabato is at home both in the classroom and in the anchor booth. He is just one of a dozen "University Professors" at U.Va and is a former Rhodes Scholar and Danforth Fellow. After he received his B.A. in government from the University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1974, he did a year's graduate study in public policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Upon receipt of the Rhodes scholarship in 1975, he left Princeton to begin study at Queen's College, Oxford University. In less than two years he received his doctorate in politics from Oxford and was invited to become an instructor for students in the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) program. In January 1978 he was elected Lecturer in Politics at New College, Oxford. He joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in September 1978.
Dr. Sabato latest book, DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA: The Slash and Burn Politics of the 2004 Presidential Election (Longman, 2005), breaks down the 2004 races and provides a jumping off point for the 2006 and 2008 contests. Dr. Sabato is also regularly updating "Sabato's Crystal Ball," a critically acclaimed election analysis website which predicted results for the 2002 midterm elections, and looks ahead to the 2004 scene.
The author of over twenty books and countless essays on the American political process, his most recent books are Get in the Booth! A Citizen's Guide to the 2004 Election (Longman, 2004), Midterm Madness: The Elections of 2002 (Rowman & Littlefield 2003), Overtime: The Election 2000 Thriller (Longman, 2001), and Dangerous Democracy: The Battle Over Ballot Initiatives in America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001). Others include Peepshow: Media and Politics in an Age of Scandal (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), Toward the Millennium: The Elections of 1996 (Allyn and Bacon, 1997), and Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics (Random House/Times Books, 1996).
Prior to the publication of these volumes, Dr. Sabato's best known book was entitled Feeding Frenzy: Attack Journalism & American Politics. Originally published in 1991 and again in 1993 by the Free Press/ Macmillan, the book made the universally used phrase a part of the political lexicon and is required reading for anyone involved in politics today. An updated edition has just been published by Lanahan Press.
Five of Dr. Sabato's other well-known books are: PAC Power: Inside the World of Political Action Committees, which focuses on the phenomenal growth of PACs and their influence on American elections); The Party's Just Begun: Shaping Political Parties for America's Future (Little Brown and Co., 1988), which examines the condition of the political parties and proposes ways to strengthen them; Paying for Elections (The Twentieth Century Fund, 1989), which advocates reforms in the financing of campaigns; Campaigns and Elections (Scott, Foresman, 1989), a source book of the new techniques used in American politics; and American Government: Continuity and Change (Addison Wesley Longman), co-authored with Karen O'Connor of American University (5th Edition - 2002).
Dr. Sabato's earlier books include an investigation of the influential corps of American political consultants and their new campaign technologies (such as polling, direct mail, and television advertising) entitled, The Rise of Political Consultants: New Ways of Winning Elections (New York: Basic Books, 1981); and a study of American state governors over thirty years, Goodbye to Good-Time Charlie: The American Governorship Transformed (Washington, D. C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1983-Second Edition). Other books and monographs have been written about Virginia politics, including a study of the rise and fall of the Democratic machine in Virginia, The Democratic Party Primary: Tantamount to Election No Longer (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1977). He is the author of the nine-volume Virginia Votes series chronicling all state elections, as well as many articles on national and state politics.
Dr. Sabato has served on many national and state commissions, including the National Commission for the Renewal of American Democracy, the U.S. Senate Campaign Finance Reform Panel, the Governor's Commission on Campaign Finance Reform, Government Accountability, and Ethics, and the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education. Far more importantly, however, he has had the privilege to teach approximately 13,000 students during his career.
Dr. Sabato is the recipient of more than two-dozen major scholarships, grants, and academic awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, the Outstanding Young Teacher Award from the University of Virginia, and Outstanding Professor Award from the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, the U.Va. Outstanding Professor Award of 2000, and inclusion among the "Top-Ten-All-Time Favorite Teachers" by U.Va.'s Alumni Association. His visiting appointments include that of Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution and Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge University, England. In 2002, the University of Virginia conferred upon Dr. Sabato its highest honor, The Thomas Jefferson Award, given annually to one individual since 1955.
At the University of Virginia Center for Politics (www.centerforpolitics.org), founded in 1998, Dr. Sabato brings his years of academic study together with an equally long career as both a political practitioner and commentator on local, state and national elections. The Center represents Dr. Sabato's mission: to improve civic education and the political process, and in doing so make government more relevant, more accessible and more meaningful for the average American. The Center has a dedicated staff of over a dozen, and its signature program, the National Youth Leadership Initiative, currently involves over 300,000 middle and high school students in all 50 states. In four years, Sabato has raised over $7 million in public and private funds to support the Center's many programs, conferences, and publications.
We all live in the moment, and we often mistakenly believe that what is true today was true always. Not so in politics, and especially in Congressional elections.
This year, congressional Democrats, ever-so-desperate to pick up the 15 seats they need to reclaim the lower chamber this year, are crossing their fingers for some of the against-the-odds Steelers magic they'll need to last them through November 7th in order to reshuffle the congressional deck.
The Democrats may or may not score real breakthroughs in the houses of Congress in 2006, but it's undeniable that they have opportunities galore in the Governorships this year.
If the Democrats want to win the Senate, they need a big wave--the kind of tsunami they got in 1974 and 1986, or that the Republicans received in 1980 and 1994. Rough surf won't do the trick, and at least at the start of 2006, November looks to be full of white caps but no Maui-style waves for the party out of power.