Larry Sabato Reacts to Senate Debate

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

October 10, 2006

Republicans, Democrats and political pundits are all reacting to Monday night’s final debate between U.S. Senate Candidates, Republican George Allen and Democrat Jim Webb.

Republicans and Democrats toe the party line when it comes to winners and losers in this debate. While political analysts are calling it draw, one local pundit even went so far as to say it was a waste of time.

“My guess is this debate will be forgotten in 24 hours,” said UVa Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato.

Nothing memorable came out of this debate said Sabato. In fact, he said he wouldn't be surprised if voters tuned out well before the hour was up.

“I thought Allen was tense and that came across, but I gave him credit for sticking to his talking points. He repeated them endlessly, but he stuck to them. I couldn't tell what Webb’s talking points were and he missed a lot of opportunities that were obvious,” remarked Sabato.

Webb failed to challenge his Republican rival over the Foley Hastert scandal and Allen failed to offer voters anything new.

“There was nothing new to learn about these candidates other than how well they memorized their lines,” said Sabato.

Sabato called the debate a draw, with no clear winner or loser.

However, at Republican Headquarters, they are claiming victory.

“Last night, George Allen spoke to the people. He looked the people in the eye through the lens of the camera and he told them what his vision for Virginia and the nation is,” said Keith Drake, who is the director of the Albemarle County Republicans.

Across town at Webb’s Headquarters, Charlottesville Democrats say their man came out on top.

“I thought Webb came across as the clear winner,” said Greg Kane of the Albemarle County Democrats.

We could debate winners and losers, but in the end Sabato says, “If there were losers it was probably the voters of Virginia.”

Sabato said he predicts Allen will win the race; that is unless a big Democratic wave of voters hit the polls.

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