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Sabato's Crystal Ball

Liz Cheney on the New Speaker, Ukraine and Israel, and Much More

Dear Readers: Center for Politics Professor of Practice Liz Cheney sat down with Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato and other members of our team this week for an exclusive discussion on our “Politics is Everything” podcast about the challenges facing American politics and democracy. Below are excerpts from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity. You can listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other major podcast platforms. Cheney’s forthcoming book, Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning, is now available for pre-order and will be released on Dec. 5. Cheney, former chair of the House Republican Conference, joined the Center for Politics as Professor of Practice in March. We will be back on Thursday with a preview of next week’s elections. — The Editors Cheney on new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R, LA-4) “Mike [Johnson] is somebody that I knew well. We were elected together. Our offices were next to each other, and Mike is somebody who says that he’s committed to defending the Constitution. But that’s not what he did when we were all tested in the aftermath of the 2020 election. “In my experience, and, I

UVA Center for Politics

The Atlas of Post-Dobbs Abortion Ballot Measures: Part One

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decisions last year, seven states have held abortion-related ballot issues, and abortion rights advocates have won all seven contests. — In Kansas and Michigan, the pro-abortion rights side broadly outperformed the winning Democratic nominees for governor. — In Ohio, last week’s Issue 1 ballot question, which was cast as a proxy vote on abortion rights, followed a similar pattern, roundly outperforming now-former Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D) showing in last year’s Senate race. Abortion ballot issues vs partisan races Whenever we cover a major ballot issue at the Crystal Ball, we always caution that, even though some votes are framed through heavily nationalized lenses, not everything from these votes can be transferred to typical partisan races. That said, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last year, seven states have held ballot measures that relate, whether directly or indirectly, to abortion rights. Abortion rights advocates have come out on the winning side of all seven contests, which is something that has been widely interpreted as a promising trend for Democrats — so the urge to compare ballot issues to partisan races is strong. With that, we’ll be going through all

J. Miles Coleman

Leaning Into State Trends: The West Coast

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — The West Coast states have all been Democratic-leaning in nearly every recent presidential election. — One exception was Oregon, which leaned slightly right of the nation in 2000, although it is now a solidly blue state. — Looking nationally, Biden was the best-performing recent Democratic nominee in several Sun Belt states — many of which will be at the center of the 2024 campaign. — Donald Trump, between his two elections as the GOP nominee, turned in the best recent Republican performances in half the states — this includes much of the electorally-critical Rust Belt. Finishing up a series Concluding our series exploring the relative leans of states in presidential elections since 2000, we’ll consider the four states that make up the West Coast. About a month ago, we started with the Northeast and Greater South. Then, we considered the Midwest and Interior West. As a refresher, when we mention how a state “leans,” we are referring to its deviation from the national popular vote in a given election. In 2020, for example, Joe Biden carried 6 states by less than his popular vote margin — those 6 are the dark blue states shown

J. Miles Coleman

Liz Cheney to Serve as Professor of Practice with UVA Center for Politics

The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia announced Wednesday that former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has accepted an appointment to serve as a Professor of Practice with the Center for Politics. The inaugural appointment is effective immediately and will run through the conclusion of the 2023 fall semester with an option to renew for one or more additional years. “I am delighted to be joining the UVA Center for Politics as a Professor of Practice. Preserving our constitutional republic is the most important work of our time, and our nation’s young people will play a crucial role in this effort. I look forward to working with students and colleagues at the Center to advance the important work they and others at the University of Virginia are doing to improve the health of democracy here and around the world,” said Cheney. “There are many threats facing our system of government and I hope my work with the Center for Politics and the broader community at the University of Virginia will contribute to finding lasting solutions that not only preserve but strengthen our democracy.” “The Board of Visitors, which endorsed a Statement on Free Expression and Free Inquiry in 2021,

UVA Center for Politics

JFK Records Reveal Intense Level of Secrecy by CIA During Investigation of Assassination

Calling it “the tip of the iceberg,” Professor Larry J. Sabato and the Center for Politics at UVA released details today of new information discovered in records released by the National Archives last month from the collection of President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records. Among the findings was a previously unknown relationship between the CIA and then-President of Mexico to run a “telephone tap center.” The operation intercepted Lee Harvey Oswald’s call in Mexico City to the Soviet embassy a month before JFK’s assassination seeking a Cuban transit visa as a means of returning to the Soviet Union. The source of the tap had not been revealed to the public prior to last month. According to the new record, the Mexican President’s cooperation with the CIA at the time was also “not known to Mexican security and law enforcement officials.” Other records show the clandestine phone tap operation was so deeply classified that the CIA resorted to extraordinary measures to conceal it even from the Justice Department as the department prepared a major report on the Kennedy assassination. One newly released document from November 27, 1963, shows the CIA requesting permission from President Adolfo Lopez Mateos and Mexico’s then Secretary

UVA Center for Politics

Book Excerpt: The Republican Evolution: From Governing Party to Antigovernment Party

Dear Readers: What follows is an excerpt from veteran political scientist Kenneth Janda’s excellent new book, The Republican Evolution: From Governing Party to Antigovernment Party, 1860-2020, which was released this week by Columbia University Press. In his book, an overview of which is presented below, Janda traces the history of the Republican Party from the Civil War to today and examines the party’s evolving national convention platforms to explain the party’s dramatic changes over its history. — The Editors I admit to Democratic partisanship, but I am more loyal to democratic government. More than fifty years of research and writing on democracy and party politics have convinced me that no nation can practice democratic government in the absence of a responsible, competitive party system. Given its constitutional structure, the United States cannot endure as a democracy without two major parties — two that compete for popular votes, accept election outcomes, and govern responsibly. Until 2020, both major parties, at different times to varying degrees, admirably fulfilled those requirements. Now one doubts whether the Republican Party — the Grand Old Party of the republic — will continue to behave like a democratic party. I wrote this book for contemporary Republican activists

Kenneth Janda

Looking Back at the 2022 Projections

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — After overestimating Republican performance in 2022, we wanted to give a short explanation to readers about our thinking in the run-up to the election. — In the end, and with a lot of contradictory information, we thought the indicators pointed more toward the Republicans than the Democrats. — In a political world where “lol, nothing matters” seemed to be a safe assumption in recent years, it appears that a lot of things did matter — things that should matter. How we assessed 2022 the way we did The day before the 2022 election, HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn tweeted the following: “Feel like I could selectively pull anecdotes and data to make a convincing case for a big election surprise in the D direction — and then do the very same thing for a big election surprise in the R direction.” One of us replied to the tweet, saying the following: “It’s true. I think in the end, a good R election is easier to explain/anticipate (fundamentals) than a good D one.” In a nutshell, this is the best explanation we can offer as to why we thought Republicans would do better in this election than

Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and J. Miles Coleman

Midterm 2022: Not a Referendum, But a Choice

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Republicans enjoyed a wave-style environment in a few states — but Democrats showed impressive strength in much of the rest of the country. — The GOP’s lack of discipline in candidate selection cost them a number of races. — It remains too early to truly categorize the wild election we saw Tuesday night, with several key House and Senate races uncalled. Sorting through the midterm so far American election nights — they don’t lack for drama these days, do they? For the third time in the last four national elections, the night unfolded in a topsy-turvy and ultimately surprising way. In 2016, it was Donald Trump’s presidential victory, which went from very unlikely to very real around 9 p.m. in the east that year. In 2020, it was Trump’s narrower-than-expected loss, paired with dramatic moments like the massive underperformance for Democrats in key places like South Florida and surprise Republican showings in the House and the Senate. And last night it was an early Florida landslide for Republicans that simply was not replicated in much of the rest of the country. Over the course of the spring, summer, and fall, we wondered if this would

Kyle Kondik

Center for Politics to Honor U.S. Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officers with First “Defender of Democracy” Award

The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia will honor the service of U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 with the presentation of the Center’s first annual “Defender of Democracy” award. This year’s inaugural award recipients will be Private First Class Harry A. Dunn, Officer Caroline Edwards, Officer Michael Fanone, Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, Private First Class Eugene Goodman, Officer Daniel Hodges, Private First Class Howard Liebengood (posthumously), Officer Jeffrey Smith (posthumously) and Private First Class Brian Sicknick (posthumously). An awards ceremony will take place in the Rotunda Dome Room from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. Following the ceremony, the officers and widows of the fallen officers will participate in a special panel discussion about the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) will give closing remarks at the conclusion of the event. Doors open at 11:45 a.m. The event is free and open to the public with advanced registration, and members of the media are welcome to attend. The event will also be livestreamed here. “The events of January 6th must serve as a constant reminder to everyone that even a strong democracy

UVA Center for Politics

Center for Politics Welcomes Nine Scholars for 2022-2023 Academic Year

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA) – The Center for Politics at UVA announced a lineup of nine prominent journalists, public servants, and political practitioners who will serve as CFP Scholars for the 2022-2023 academic year. The CFP Scholars will teach and mentor students; offer timely analysis of political events; host unique student workshops; and assist Center for Politics faculty and staff in developing and presenting timely and topical public programming throughout the coming fall and spring semesters. The 2022-2023 CFP Scholars are: Political commentator and strategist Paul Begala New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie CBS News Face the Nation moderator and chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan Former U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R, VA-10) CBS News Chief Election & Campaign Correspondent Robert Costa ABC News chief Washington correspondent and co-anchor of This Week with George Stephanopoulos Jonathan Karl Former Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs Former Virginia state Del. David Ramadan (R) Political communications veteran and commentator Tara Setmayer Images of the Center for Politics scholars: top row, left to right: Paul Begala, Jamelle Bouie, and Margaret Brennan; middle row: Barbara Comstock, Robert Costa, and Jonathan Karl; bottom row: Christopher Krebs, David Ramadan, and Tara Setmayer. “The

UVA Center for Politics

Notes on the State of Politics: August 3, 2022

Dear Readers: This is the latest edition of Notes on the State of Politics, which features short updates on elections and politics. After last night’s big primaries, we go state-by-state below and assess the takeaways, starting with the most notable result of the evening — a decisive victory for abortion rights supporters in Republican-leaning Kansas. — The Editors Table 1: Crystal Ball Senate rating change Senator Old Rating New Rating MO Open (Blunt, R) Likely Republican Safe Republican Kansas In Kansas, last night’s marquee contest was not a primary but a ballot question. If approved, the measure would have enabled the legislature to pass abortion restrictions by affirming that the state constitution doesn’t guarantee a right to abortion. The result was a surprisingly wide margin for the pro-abortion rights side, as the amendment failed by 18 points. Turnout was high: though some votes are still being counted, just over 900,000 ballots were cast in the referendum, which was close to 90% of what the 2018 general election saw. While that is impressive, it confirmed our existing feeling that 2022 is on track to be a high-turnout midterm — as pollster John Couvillon has tracked, primary turnout thus far has exceeded that of 2018.

Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman

Making Polls Work (Again)

Dear Readers: We’re pleased to feature an excerpt from G. Elliott Morris’s new book, Strength in Numbers: How Polls Work and Why We Need Them. Morris is a data journalist at the Economist whose work has previously appeared in the Crystal Ball. In this excerpt, Morris addresses some of the big questions of polling — namely, how polling can be improved, and how the public’s understanding of polling can be improved along with it. — The Editors The polls have had some big misfires, but they are still the best tools we have to gauge support for the actions of the government. If the accuracy of polling overall is measured by the predictive abilities of election polls, then they are typically off by one percentage point here and two there, and the person in the lead ends up winning. Studies of issue polls directly suggest they may be more accurate than their pre-election counterparts. More importantly, a one- or two-point miss is not nearly large enough to alter conversations about public policy. What is the practical difference between a position that is supported by 60% versus 62% of adults? Certainly the two-point difference would not change any politician’s mind when

G. Elliott Morris

The Dissipating Political Impact of Jan. 6

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — A recurring theme during Donald Trump’s presidency was the emergence of seemingly very negative and very damaging stories that ultimately did not appear to do him long-term harm. — It may be that Jan. 6, when Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 election galvanized a crowd of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol, is another such story. — Donald Trump’s position among the American public is largely unchanged from right before the events of Jan. 6, 2021. His position among Republicans remains strong, and the position of his detractors within the party appears weak. And Republicans’ political position in the context of 2022 also appears strong. The electoral impact of Jan. 6 One of the recurring questions of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and then presidency was some variation on the following: “Will this <outrageous statement, damaging revelation, or other development> have a lasting, negative impact on <Trump and/or the Republican Party>?” There are all sorts of examples: the various revelations from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including his final report; Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, which sparked the first impeachment of Trump roughly 2

Kyle Kondik

New UMass Poll Shows a GOP Still in Trump’s Grip

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Seven in 10 Republicans still believe Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate. — While almost all Democrats support law enforcement efforts to track down and prosecute those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, only 28% of Republicans support those efforts. — Republicans say they would punish GOP candidates who voted to impeach Donald Trump or establish a commission to investigate the events of January 6 and be more likely to vote for Republicans who questioned the legitimacy of Biden's victory. — Fifty-five percent of Republicans list Donald Trump as their first choice for the 2024 Republican nomination, and 3 out of 4 have him in their top 3. New polling on Jan. 6 As the world watched a mob of Trump supporters violently breach the United States Capitol Building, interrupting the counting of Electoral College votes, Donald Trump’s staunchest allies privately conveyed their horror and concern to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. “He's got to condemn this sh*t ASAP,” wrote Donald Trump, Jr. “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” wrote Fox News host Laura Ingraham. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his

Alexander Theodoridis, Lane Cuthbert, and Donald Snyder

New Hampshire: The Fallout from Sununu’s Choice

KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE — Republicans are still looking for a challenger to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) after Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) surprisingly passed on running against her next year. — Sununu’s decision to run for reelection means Republicans are heavy favorites to hold onto the New Hampshire governorship. Table 1: Crystal Ball gubernatorial rating change Governor Old Rating New Rating Chris Sununu (R-NH) Leans Republican Safe Republican The Sununu fallout Republicans basking in the afterglow of their strong election showings last week got a rare piece of bad political news Tuesday morning, when Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) — arguably the party’s most important Senate recruit — surprisingly decided not to challenge first-term Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in next year’s Senate election. WMUR reported later on Tuesday that national Republicans’ likely second choice for the nomination, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), also was not going to run. Ayotte lost to Hassan by just 1,017 votes in 2016. Additionally, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) has also indicated he isn’t likely to run. Brown, who credibly challenged Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in 2014 after losing his reelection bid to now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in 2012, said his family’s focus is on

Kyle Kondik