Larry Sabato’s famous ‘Crystal Ball’ election predictions released, and it’s good news for the GOP

Larry Sabato released his final “Crystal Ball” ratings for the 2022 midterms on Monday. Sabato and his team at the University of Virginia Center for Politics anticipate what amounts to a red ripple. Nevertheless, they forecast Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

With some predicting the Republicans with +3 or +4 in the Senate and +40 or so in the House, Sabato comes in to moderate that expectation.

First, the Crystal Ball in the Senate: Sabato expects the Republicans to come out with a 51-49 majority in the upper chamber. Specifically, he predicts Republican candidate Mehmet Oz to win in Pennsylvania, moving the rating of that race from “leans Democratic” to “leans Republican.” Conservatives and sane people everywhere can let that calm their frayed nerves until the votes are tallied.

The question being tossed around in GOP circles as to whether Philadelphia’s ruthlessly corrupt political machine will be able to “produce” the tally needed to put John Fetterman, whom many consider being an invalid, over the top will likely be known on Wednesday. If Oz is up 700,000 votes at bedtime tonight, as Trump was in 2020, Republicans may not sleep easy.

If Sabato is right, Pennsylvania would be a key hold, as the winner will fill a seat currently held by Republican Pat Toomey.

Next, Sabato predicts Herschel Walker will unseat radical Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock. His rating there was moved from “toss up” to “leans Republican.” This race has been a major focus for Republican strategists and would represent a key pickup. It would also represent the removal of one of the most radical members of the current Senate, which is saying something.

In Sabato’s world, that is the end of the good news for Republicans in the Senate. The Crystal Ball does not forecast pickups in Nevada or Arizona, much less New Hampshire or Washington.

The pollster moved the race between Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt from “toss up” to “leans Democrat.” Similarly, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly is expected to hold off impressive Republican challenger Blake Masters, which would add yet another disappointment to the growing list of Arizona underachievements.

About the Senate, Sabato summarizes, “There is still a considerable amount of uncertainty about the Senate. Races in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania can all accurately be described as jump balls. New Hampshire, where Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) is seeking a second term, is not quite in the same bucket, but it’s close.”

In the House of Representatives, the UVA group forecasts a final tally of 237 Republicans to 198 Democrats, a net Republican gain of 24 seats.

Most interestingly, there are several high-profile Democrats in the House on the chopping block who came in during the blue wave midterm four years ago. Representatives in California (Mike Levin), Connecticut (Jahana Hayes, elected 2018), Michigan (Elissa Slotkin), Nevada (Susie Lee) (D, NV), and Virginia (Elaine Luria) could find themselves the casualties of a changing tide.

In the close gubernatorial races, Sabato predicts a favorable result for Republicans. He sees the GOP gaining an extra seat.

There has been a lot of national interest in the Arizona race, where Republican Kari Lake has massively outclassed the Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Sabato predicts a Lake win:

“In Arizona, which is an open Republican-held seat, former TV news anchor Kari Lake (R) has built a small but consistent lead in most public polling. Lake’s views on the legitimacy of the 2020 election have made her a polarizing figure, but she is more charismatic than her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs, who drew criticism for refusing to debate.”

“Arizona, Nevada, and Wisconsin are all close states in presidential elections that we are pushing from Toss-up to Leans Republican,” Sabato said.

  • Arizona – Lake will beat Hobbs
  • Nevada – Democrat incumbent Steve Sisolak will lose to Republican Joe Lombardo
  • Wisconsin – Democrat incumbent Tony Evers will lose his seat to GOP challenger Tim Michels

Sabato also expects Republican Derek Schmidt to prevail against Democrat incumbent Laura Kelly.

But he forecasts two Democrat incumbents to hold on:

  • Michigan – Democrat incumbent Gretchen Whitmer will hold off challenger Tudor Dixon
  • Oregon – Republican Christine Drazan will not be able to outpace Democrat Tina Kotek

Just a quick and obvious reminder not to put too much stock in this or any other prediction. Remember, Sabato was way off in 2016. But then, most everyone was.


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