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Early Thoughts on 2016’s Presidential and Down-Ballot Races

U.Va. Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato is a regular contributor to Politico Magazine, and this week he and the Crystal Ball team offer snippets and links to a two-part series that takes an early look at the 2016 presidential and down-ballot pictures. The first article, which appeared in Politico Magazine on Sept. 7, 2015, reviews eight important facets of the presidential campaign. The second column, which appeared in the magazine on Sept. 13, 2015, offers eight things to keep in mind about elections for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and governor.

The Editors

The Truth About the 2016 Race

The rise of Donald Trump might represent some massive sea change in American politics — but it’s far more likely he will fade long before the primary season does. Thanks to Trump, August was a blockbuster month for the political press, but most of what is happening now won’t decide who is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017.

Given the early beginning to this cycle’s presidential derby — Jeb Bush unofficially jumpstarted the race back in December 2014 — it feels like the primary season should be launching in a couple of weeks. But it’s not. As Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report recently observed, college football, which just kicked off last weekend, will have a new national champion before any of the caucuses or primaries are slated to be held.

Still, the real factors that will decide the contest in 2016 are starting to come into view. As the media’s focus on the horserace intensifies, and they obsess over minor gaffes and meaningless slights, here are eight factors you should keep in mind as you size up the state of the race.

To read the rest of the column, please click here.

The Key to Winning Down-Ballot Races

Down-ballot races are increasingly decided by who wins the White House. To grasp this fact, it’s best to focus on two numbers: 6 percent and .781.

The first number is the total percentage of House districts that voted for different parties for president and for U.S. House in 2012. It was the lowest percentage in nearly a century. The second number is the correlation between the presidential results and the Senate race results in 2012. (Zero indicates no relationship, while one would indicate a perfect, exact relationship between two variables.) The correlation between presidential and Senate voting in 2012 was higher than it had been in more than half a century.

In other words, the presidential race looms very large down the ballot. And, as we examine the state of the Senate, House and gubernatorial races coming up this year and next, the presidential outcome may be especially important in the highest-profile category: the Senate.

To read the rest of the column, please click here.