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UVA's Sabato Weighs in on Election Day, New Prediction Methods

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The UVA Center for Politics is gearing up for Election Day. The UVA Center for Politics is gearing up for Election Day.
Executive Director of UVA's Center for Politics Larry Sabato. Executive Director of UVA's Center for Politics Larry Sabato.
Democrat Leslie Cockburn. Democrat Leslie Cockburn.
Republican Denver Riggleman. Republican Denver Riggleman.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

On the eve of Election Day, the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is waiting to see if its final predictions come true.

Prognosticators from all across the county have put out their final predictions on races that could reshape the balance of power. Larry Sabato of UVA’s Center or Politics says that the tight race will likely go in favor of the Democrats.

Sabato, who is the center’s executive director and chief prognosticator, and his staff spent the weekend working phones and contacting campaigns for internal tracking polls and their feel of the races.

In Virginia, Sabato said incumbent Senator Tim Kaine is a solid favorite against Republican Corey Stewart. The 7th Congressional District race is a tossup along with the 5th District race between Democrat Leslie Cockburn and Republican Denver Riggleman.

According to Sabato, weather could play a factor in tomorrow’s races.

“Even a steady rain will take a couple of percent off the turnout,” Sabato said. “I always tell people they are not going to melt unless they are the Wicked Witch of the West.”

In the 5th District race, Sabato said it will turn blue only if Democrats are having a great night of exceeding expectations. 

“This is a Republican district. It would be significant if a Democrat carried the 5th [District],” Sabato said. “My God, they voted for Trump, they voted for Gillespie.”  

Sabato said they have learned lessons from the big prediction flop of 2016. He and other political analysts are changing their tactics by dissecting social media and using online polling.

“There’s a new system of doing it that actually permits you to get a better random sample than you are going to get on the telephone because people don’t answer the phone anymore because they have called ID,” Sabato said. “The data collection has become much more sophisticated, much more broad-based.”

Sabato and his staff will be looking forward to Tuesday’s exit polls. For the first time this year, there are two sets of exit pools which will allow Sabato to compare the two and get a better understanding of who is voting and what drives them to the polls.

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