Accuracy in Media

Instead of underwriting media stars who fail to predict the future, perhaps the University of Virginia (UVA) ought to get back to teaching students marketable skills so they can obtain good jobs.

One of the big losers on November 8 was UVA media star and Professor Larry Sabato, who said on MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell show that “Our prediction is that Hillary Clinton will get 322 electoral votes, and Donald Trump will get 216.”

Trump/Pence are projected to get 306 electoral votes to Clinton/Kaine’s 232.

Perhaps he should take up astrology.

His Crystal Ball newsletter “has been a leader in accurately predicting elections since its inception,” says Sabato’s website. Described as “authoritative,” the newsletter is part of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

His total compensation in 2014 was $380,000.

On the November 7 O’Donnell show, Sabato predicted Clinton would win North Carolina (Trump won it) and that Clinton had a real shot of winning Ohio (Trump won it by nine points).

Sabato said, “One of my great people at the Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik, wrote a book called Bellwether about Ohio…so his contacts are the best and they keep telling us that it’s much, much closer than people realize and that Clinton might, might be able to pull out a victory there…”

Kondik is managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball newsletter.

Sabato also predicted a net gain of four for Democrats in the Senate, resulting in a 50-50 tie in Congress’ upper chamber. “If we’re right about the presidential contest, that means Vice President Tim Kaine (D) will be breaking ties after Inauguration,” Sabato claimed.

Sabato thought there was a chance of Democrats taking the Senate. “If we’re off on the total number of seat changes [in the Senate],” he said, “we think it’s slightly likelier that Democrats get to 51 or 52 than Republicans. That could mean the Democrats pulling out a win in Indiana, Missouri, or North Carolina. If Republicans hold on to the majority, it probably would be because Ayotte survives in New Hampshire.”

In fact, Ayotte lost in New Hampshire and Republicans won in Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina.

Ayotte alienated Republicans by abandoning Trump. Her campaign alienated conservatives by passing out free condoms to get votes at the University of New Hampshire.

Rather than being losses, the GOP victories were:

  • In Indiana, the Republican Todd Young beat Democrat Evan Bayh by 52.1 to 42.4.
  • In Missouri, the Republican Roy Blunt beat the Democrat Jason Kander by 49.4 to 46.2.
  • In North Carolina, the Republican Richard Burr beat the Democrat Deborah Ross by 51.1 to 45.3.

After the Trump victory, Sabato’s UVA website declared, “We heard for months from many of you, saying that we were underestimating the size of a potential hidden Trump vote and his ability to win. We didn’t believe it, and we were wrong. The Crystal Ball is shattered. We’ll pick up the pieces starting next week as we try to unpack what happened in this election, where there was so much dramatic change from just four years ago.”

He added, “We have a lot to learn, and we must make sure the Crystal Ball never has another year like this. This team expects more of itself, and we apologize to our readers for our errors.”

Perhaps Sabato ought to spend more time teaching classes and less time on MSNBC, CNN and other channels.

To make matters worse, O’Donnell brought on Ana Marie Cox, a rabid feminist now with MTV, who breathed a sigh of relief at Sabato’s prediction that Trump wouldn’t win. But she said America still had a lot to fear because Trump’s success in the primaries had revealed some “real ugly things” about the U.S.

She added, “I am hopeful this is going to be a fairly resounding victory and that is going to put some shame back in people about the kinds of things that have come up during this election.”

Former Jeb Bush communications director Tim Miller was then brought on to say that he was hopeful that Hispanic immigrants would be “the ones to put the nail in Donald Trump`s coffin” in states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida.

Trump lost in Nevada by only 2 points and Colorado by only about 3 points. Trump beat Clinton in Florida.

Sabato told O’Donnell that a firm called Latino Decisions had estimated that Clinton would get a higher percentage of Latino votes than Barack Obama, and that Trump was at only 16 percent.

The results were much different. In fact, the Pew Research Center says Clinton had a lower percentage of Latinos than Obama, and Trump got 29 percent, two more points that Mitt Romney in 2012.

My crystal ball says Sabato will not change the name of his newsletter and that he will be back in four years making another round of predictions.

O’Donnell himself bought into the hype, declaring that the fear is that “the presidency will be handed over to ignorance, incompetence and bigotry,” but that “the latest polls indicate that…America should have nothing to fear.”

He added, “Donald Trump has taken this country to the brink, and tomorrow voters are likely to take it back.”

This episode of the O’Donnell show demonstrates how the media talk among themselves, using sources that reaffirm their biases, while ignoring objective reality.

We have come to expect this from MSNBC, but to have a prestigious university like UVA participate in such a charade is an absolute disgrace.

“The glass ceiling did not break Tuesday night, but the Crystal Ball shattered,” wrote Andrew Cain of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in a story about Sabato’s humiliation.

But don’t think that Sabato will slink away in disgrace. He was back on CNN on Monday giving his opinion on the Electoral College.

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  • Clintonispathetic
  • Kelly

    So much for having your finger on the throb of this country media! Obviously you don’t!

  • TPS12

    If your goal was to break the glass ceiling you should have picked a better candidate.

  • Why is anybody surprised at the Sabato & O’Donnell reaction to the election and the stupid predictions by Sabato? The zealots on the left, including the vile Obama, have learned zero from the election & continue to pursue failed policies. BTW I watched a little of O’Donnell, just out of curiosity–he is a total joke and Charleton.

  • Ted


  • Ted

    It was a bunch of johnny-come-lately “zealots” from the left and right and in just the right states that gave Trump his win.

    Zealotry lives! And Steve Bannon and his ilk, aided by clowns like Gingrich and Giuliani, will undoubtedly further the tradition … ongoing for the last 25 years … promoted by Gingrich’s politics of personal destruction … resulting, originally, in unrelenting Clinton hatred and, then, garden-variety racist hatred versus Obama … and then … back to Clinton hatred! The Republicans KNOW ALL ABOUT “zealotry”!

  • Peter

    Sabato’s crystal ball is advised to consult the bookmakers. They know where most of the punters are betting. The weight of the money wagered does not reflect the weight of individual bets taken. Plebeians bet with their heart and vote with their heart with little money. Look for the ‘heart’ vote every time. All votes weigh the same, in the same area, so weight of money does not come into it, which only shortens the odds. The bookies got it right about Brexit, and about a Trump VICTORY! The money did not. Follow the heart!

  • Peter

    I’d like to send a cheerio to IronChef also. He was one of the ladies voting for Hillary. She wanted the lady vote IronChef, didn’t you notice?

  • efred1

    These dingleberries in political analysis are the modern-day equivalent of the 70’s weatherman: They can be less than 20% accurate, but still keep their jobs.

    I wish I had purchase or subscribe to Newsweek, just so I could get their “Madam President” issue before it got pulled.

    That would be worth keeping.


    The glass ceiling was shattered, Trump had the first woman campaign manager to run and win a presidential candidacy, that’s a win. He also has female advisors and handed total control of his entire Trump empire to his daughter Ivanka, that’s a win as well. I don’t know what these people are protesting, Trump has much better street cred for women than Hillary does, miles more. Get your heads screwed on straight girls, a win is a win, wait for a truly deserving candidate for president.

  • Colorado Conservative

    Cliff, Trump would have won Colorado had it not been for the NeverTrump lunatics who did everything they could to make sure he lost this state. I believe many of them were inside the state GOP as well which did little to help Trump win, including warehousing thousands of yard signs and Trump campaign materials. Because of the GOP doing nothing a group of us in a Democratic stronghold county formed the Trump Street Team. We had large colorful banners with positive Trump messages and we spent weeks on street corners and at local events showcasing them. TRUMP WON this decades long controlled Democrat county and we happen to think the Street Team which acted independently of any political party was the reason why.

  • kansas

    Weather guys are like this.

  • jksu2

    Money well spent by MSNBC.

  • Lee Ryan

    Sandwich man is too busy licking his wounds.

  • Lee Ryan

    O’Donnell should go back to writing updated versions of “The West Wing” He could invite democratic riot goons
    Into his basement to watch the good old days versions of “Libtards in Power.” This would get some of those whining nincompoops off the streets and provide the Smug Sir Lawrence a new audience to bow at his slippered

  • Lee Ryan

    Terribl Ted: Dude! You just got your
    Oversized head handed to you when you LOST the election. Show some humility and try to figure out why everything went so wrong for you. America is sending you a message. Suck it in to your fragile brain and give your big bad yap a rest for a change

  • Patrick Cimo

    Another Defeated Hateful NEOCON….LOSER!