Sabato and Friends: University of Virginia Political Experts for Election Day

October 31, 2008 — The University of Virginia is a political science powerhouse, home to renowned pundit Larry Sabato and his Center for Politics, whose nationally watched Crystal Ball predictions of the 2006 election results were the most accurate of any prognosticators.

As of Oct. 30, Sabato predicts Obama winning 364 electoral votes, and Democrats gaining seven or eight Senate seats on top of 26 to 35 members of the House. On Nov. 3, he'll post his final call on every single race, and we'll find out on Nov. 5 (hopefully) whether he can repeat as the nation's most accurate predictor.

While Sabato helps anchor the BBC's election night coverage, his colleague Paul Freedman will be assessing the poll results for ABC News and Lynn Sanders will join ABC's Sam Donaldson to discuss the white male vote and analyze the Bradley/Wilder effect.

A number of other U.Va. faculty will be weighing in for national and international media on issues from voting machine security to the implicit biases of voters, as detailed below.

• Larry J. Sabato
Professor of politics and director of the U.Va. Center for Politics

Advertising, polling, Virginia politics

Paul Freedman
Associate professor of politics
434-924-1372 (office)
434-242-8654 (mobile)

Freedman co-authored a book demonstrating how, contrary to popular opinion, voters benefit from the ongoing barrage negative political ads, which serve as "multi-vitamins for the average American's impoverished diet of political information." His research found that negative ads are the ones most likely to educate, engage and mobilize voters.

Freedman does off-camera polling return analysis for ABC News.

Previous media citations:

The last debate: What to expect
Media General News Service / Oct. 14

Obama, McCain sweep DC, Md., Va.
USA Today / Feb. 12

Huckabee Supporters Have High Hopes for Virginia
NPR's Morning Edition / Feb. 11

Gender, race and class in politics, undecided voters

Brian Nosek
Assistant professor of psychology

Nosek is a co-developer of the online Implicit Association Test, which measures how long it takes respondents to match positive and negative words with black and white faces (including Obama's), revealing "implicit bias."

Previous media citations:

Do 'undecided' voters make a difference?
Toronto Star / Oct. 30

Undecided voter? There may be no such thing
Los Angeles Times / Aug. 22

When Voters Lie / How the Unconscious Affects the Truth
Wall Street Journal / Aug. 2

Lynn Sanders
Associate professor of politics
434-284-1580 (mobile)
434-924-3613 (office)
434-973-0173 (home)
Online bio

Sanders studies gender, race and class issues, with a special interest in the issue of whether voters lie to conform with perceived social standards.

Previous media citations:

Sexual Politics Back On Agenda / Palin may need to heed advice she gave Clinton
National Post (Canada) / Sept. 13

For scholars of race, an Obama dilemma
Seattle Times / Newhouse News Service / Aug. 13

Vesla Weaver
Assistant professor of politics
Online bio

Weaver studies race and ethnic politics, immigration, the politics of inequality, social policy and political psychology. She is currently completing a book manuscript, "Frontlash: Race and Transformation of American Criminal Policy and Politics," which uncovers a connection between the movement for civil rights and the development of punitive criminal justice.

She has conducted research exploring how white voters react to black and Latino political candidates of varying skin tones. At age 28, she's one of the youngest faculty members at U.Va., having gone from undergraduate to assistant professor in just six years.

Previous media citations:

US Voters Offer Opinions about Barack Obama, His Race, and Its Impact on the Upcoming Election.
Voice of America / Oct. 14

In a gamble, Obama takes aim at America's 'racial stalemate'
USA Today / March 19, 2008

Presidential politics

Sidney Milkis
Professor of politics
Assistant director for academic programs at U.Va.'s Miller Center of Public Affairs
434-924-6052 (office)
434-975-3139 (home)
434-984-5685 (home)
Online bio

Milkis has written 11 books on American politics. Several serve as popular textbooks, including, "American Government: Balancing Rights and Democracy, 2nd edition" and "The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776–1998, 5th edition."

His research focuses on the American presidency, political parties and elections, social movements and American political development.

Previous media citations:

Eight years of Bush turmoil ends
Agence France Presse / Oct. 27

McCain, Obama Spar Over Crisis as First Debate May Be Casualty
Bloomberg / Sept. 25

What Obama Can Learn From Bubba
Huffington Post / July 2, 2008

Russell Riley
Associate professor and chairman of the Presidential Oral History Program at U.Va.'s Miller Center of Public Affairs
434-982-2740 (office)
Online bio

Riley studies race and politics, presidential leadership, Southern politics and political parties. His book, "The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Inequality: Nation-keeping from 1831–1965," is a comparative study of how presidents dealt with abolitionism and the later movement for black civil rights. He is currently working on a book about post-war politics in the United States, examining comparatively the immediate aftermaths of the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War.

Previous media citations:

What Kind of Temperament Is Best?
Time / Oct. 16

Third presidential debate: Was there a winner?
Minnesota Public Radio / Oct. 16

Obama-Clinton race echoes past bouts
USA Today / May 13

Electoral history, presidential biography

Brian Balogh
Professor of history and chair of the Governing America in a Global Era program at U.Va.'s Miller Center
Online bio

Balogh specializes in 20th-century American political history, including the history of the Electoral College and voting issues. He is a co-host of the new public radio show, "BackStory with the American History Guys." In the latest episode, he outlines the colorful history of electoral fraud, hijinks and evolutions, from the 1965 Voting Rights Act to the hanging chads of 2000.

Previous media citations:

Presidential biography
Economist [audio] / Dec. 13, 2007

The Internet: Now a Presidential Campaign Essential
BusinessWeek / Aug. 25

Election law

Dan Ortiz
Professor of law

Ortiz specializes in a variety of legal subjects, including election law and campaign finance reform. Ortiz, who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., also teaches the U.Va. Law School's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.

Previous media citations:

11th-hour applications flood registrars' offices
Roanoke Times / Oct. 22

Suit Could Unleash Surge of Money in 2008 Presidential Race
New York Sun / Feb. 15

Bush says GOP got a thumpin' from Democrats
MarketWatch / Nov. 8, 2006

Voting machine technology and security

David Evans
Associate professor of computer science
School of Engineering and Applied Science
434-982-2218 (office)

Online bio

Evans is an expert on voting machine technology and security. In addition to his research on the flaws of computerized voting equipment, Evans has served on a Virginia state legislative subcommittee on voting equipment.

Previous media citation:

Computer expert: Scrap all paperless voting machines
Roanoke Times / Nov. 16, 2006

Bryan Pfaffenberger
Associate professor of Science, Technology and Society

Pfaffenberger is currently writing a book on the history of voting machines from 1888 to 1983, tentatively titled, "Machining the Vote." He has found that scholars have all but ignored the history of voting machines, which he finds surprising given our politically obsessed culture. "There's an almost exact parallel between the debate we're having today concerning electronic voting machines and the equally divisive, but completely forgotten, debate that greeted first-generation voting machine technology in the 1920s," Pfaffenberger says.

Previous media citation:

Return to paper ballots? Not so fast/History shows that the US gave them up for good reason
Christian Science Monitor / May 30, 2008