CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of the nation's pre-eminent political forecasters will be in Charleston less than a month before the November election.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, will speak about the November elections at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at the University of Charleston.
Sabato "accurately predicted 98 percent of Senate, House and governors' race winners in 2006, 2008 and 2010," according to UC.
"It is very exciting to be bringing such a high-caliber expert to Charleston. It will be an interesting and entertaining night for anyone interested in politics or the upcoming election," said UC spokeswoman Jennie Ferretti.
Sabato -- who gave the W.E. "Ned" Chilton Leadership Lecture in Charleston nearly two decades ago -- and his colleagues continually post new information and predictions, especially about close elections, on the Center for Politics' "Crystal Ball" website at www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball.
The website's latest update, on Thursday, says the presidential race is tilting toward Democratic incumbent Barack Obama -- but West Virginia is solidly in Republican challenger Mitt Romney's camp.
According to Sabato, the only federal race in West Virginia that is even remotely competitive is the U.S. House 3rd District race -- and even that prediction has Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., "likely" to defeat Republican challenger Rick Snuffer.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is rated "safe" in his race against Republican John Raese and Mountain Party candidate Bob Henry Baber, according to Sabato's group. The same goes for Republican Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley in their races against Democratic challengers Howard Swint and Sue Thorn.
Sabato's University of Virginia colleagues Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley helped prepare the latest analysis, which moved several states, including Ohio and Virginia, from a toss-up to leaning Democratic.
"Our changes push Obama over the magic 270 [electoral vote] mark, but we are not calling the race. First, the debates are yet to come," according to the website. "There is at least the possibility that, if Romney fares particularly well or Obama does poorly, the drift of this contest could change."
Other events, such as an international crisis or dramatically bad domestic economic numbers, could change the course of the presidential race, according to Sabato's website.
"Caution is always in order with almost six weeks to go, yet President Obama clearly leads at the moment," Crystal Ball adds.
Sabato also has written more than 20 books about politics, often focusing on how the nation's political atmosphere continues to change, including "Pendulum Swing," published in January 2011 about how recent Republican victories could impact this year's elections.
His previous books include: "The Rise of Political Consultants: New Ways of Winning Elections" and "Feeding Frenzy: Attack Journalism and American Politics." Sabato also has written books focused on George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The Dow Chemical Foundation sponsors UC's Speaker Series. The Sabato event is free and open to the public in Geary Auditorium in Riggleman Hall. It is also on the same night as the debate in Charleston between gubernatorial candidates Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Bill Maloney, sponsored by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.
Questions for Sabato may be submitted in advance online at www.ucwv.edu/SpeakerSeries/LarrySabato/Question.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.