LYNCHBURG–Randolph College will host Larry Sabato, one of the most well-known scholars of modern politics, for a discussion of the future of congressional and presidential elections at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 in Smith Hall Theatre.
Sabato’s presentation for Randolph’s 2013 Philip Thayer Memorial Lecture is titled “Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” and is free and open to the public. He will look back on issues at play in the 2012 presidential election and then peer into the future of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House.
“Anyone who cares about the notion of governance would find this of interest,” said William Coulter, the Eichelbaum Professor of English and chair of the Thayer Lecture committee. “Lots of people follow Sabato, and the media go to him pretty frequently when there are important elections or burning political issues.”
Sabato is the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia and director of its Center for Politics. He has earned a solid reputation of accurate foresight in elections. Months before the 2008 election, he correctly predicted a landslide victory for President Barack Obama and missed the final Electoral College tally by only one vote. In 2012, he foretold the close popular vote but another landslide Obama victory in the Electoral College. He has accurately predicted the results of 98 percent of congressional and governor races in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012.
The Thayer lecture, named for a respected retired Randolph history professor, brings a scholar to Randolph College each year to discuss important contemporary topics. Recent Thayer speakers have addressed subjects such as the state of Islam and the future of higher education. Coulter believes Sabato’s address will be beneficial at a time when politics have become more polarized and some voters have lost faith in the political process due to a variety of scandals tied to elected officials and candidates.
“We could all stand to have our belief in our political system polished and improved, because it is a trying time,” Coulter said. “It’s easy to be cynical about the political process. Sabato has devoted his professional career to studying politics, so he has seen it all at one time or another. He’s in a very good position to say something about the way the system functions and the extent to which we should be distressed and upset right now, and possibly some things that we could do to improve the situation.”