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Sabato Puts Senate race in Democratic Corner

Anita Kumar

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia professor known for his Election Day observations, today released his most recent take on the U.S. Senate races this November which includes the popular prediction that Virginia's open seat likely will go Democratic.

Sabato expects Democrats to pick up between three and seven seats to add to their razor-thin 51-49 margin in what is shaping up to be a tough political environment for Republicans across the nation. But that's still less than they need to reach 60, the number needed to shut down filibusters.

In Virginia, Sabato predicts a "likely Democratic pickup" with former Democratic governor Mark R. Warner defeating former Republican governor James S. Gilmore III. He noted that the state has "undeniably" become more Democratic in recent years with wins for govenor in 2001 and 2005, U.S. Senate in 2006 and the state Senate in 2007.

"The man who started the movement to the Democrats, former Governor Mark Warner, is very likely headed to the Senate in 2008,'' he writes in his Crystal Ball. "He may or may not be handicapped by the Democratic presidential nominee, but he has such wide appeal among independents that he should be able to make up any lost ground, and it is far from impossible that Barack Obama (unlike Hillary Clinton) could carry Virginia."

If Warner succeeds retiring Sen. John Warner (R), Democrats in Virginia will control the governor's mansion and both U.S. Senate seats for the first time since January 1970.

"Virginia's years as a Republican stronghold are well over," Sabato writes.

By Anita Kumar  |  June 19, 2008; 8:48 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , John W. Warner , Mark Warner  
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