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'2010 will be a Republican year', expert predicts

With less than a month to go ahead of crucial US midterm elections, spoke to Dr. Larry Sabato, a political analyst known for accurately predicting electoral outcomes. His prognosis looks grim for President Barack Obama’s Democrats.


On Nov. 2, US voters will head to the polls to vote in the eagerly awaited midterm elections. With the economy still struggling and President Barack Obama's approval ratings stagnating just below fifty percent, signs point to strong Republican gains. Dr. Larry Sabato, author, political commentator, and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, is renowned for his accurate predictions of US election results. caught up with him for an interview.

FRANCE 24: What are your predictions for the forthcoming midterm elections?

Dr. Larry Sabato: As has been clear for some time, 2010 will be a Republican year. The GOP seems poised to take over control of the House, although Democrats have grown more optimistic in the past weeks, and Republicans will also gain significant numbers of Senate seats and governorships. It is unlikely that Republicans will capture the Senate majority, but they are operating right on the cusp at the moment, and it is certainly a possibility that Democrats must work to prevent. Democrats currently hold 26 governorships, two more than Republicans do, but after November the tables will be turned.

F24: What could happen between now and November 2 that could possibly alter that outcome?

Dr. Larry Sabato: The only thing that could save Democrats from large-scale losses is an “October surprise” of momentous proportions. It would take a huge rebound in economic terms, or more chillingly a national crisis, to derail the train from a track that is leading towards a Republican resurgence in November. Sure, Democrats and Obama must work hard between today and election day, but they are mostly operating on the margins, chipping away in an attempt to diminish the size of the boulder rolling down the mountain, unable to alter its course.

F24: What impact will the midterm vote have on the remainder of Obama’s term, as well as his bid for re-election in 2012?

Dr. Larry Sabato: The ink has dried on Obama’s first-term accomplishments. With Republican majorities, or at the very least diminished Democratic ones, he will be unable to accomplish much else on his checklist before 2012. He knew this, though, which is why his team worked so hard to push through the slate of accomplishments he has already won, from healthcare reform to the stimulus and financial reform. The good news for Democrats is that a large-scale loss in 2010 says very little, if anything, about 2012. History shows that a disastrous first midterm election for a president does not doom them to re-election defeat. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both saw their party lose dozens of House seats after two years in office, only to be re-elected themselves two years later. Conversely, George Bush senior had a relatively mild first midterm when the GOP lost fewer than 10 House seats, but he was defeated for re-election by Clinton in 1992.

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