Government & Policy


JFK, politics, and the 2024 election: A chat with Larry Sabato

November 29, 2023

JFK, politics, and the 2024 election: A chat with Larry Sabato

Larry Sabato

Political Analyst & Director and Founder of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia

Larry Sabato, political scientist and analyst, shares his thoughts on presidential debates and JFK's legacy.

Larry Sabato is an American political scientist, analyst, and the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. Larry is also the Founder and Director of the Center of Politics, an entity designed to promote civic engagement and political participation. The Center of Politics also distributes Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an online publication that provides free political analysis and election projections.

In addition to his work at the University of Virginia, Larry has won 4 Emmy awards and written over 20 books, with his most recent work being A Return to Normalcy?: The 2020 Election that (Almost) Broke America.

Are presidential debates still needed?

Some believe presidential debates are on their way out, but many people still focus on the presidential debates, and they remain popular. For example, the recent Republican primary debate garnered somewhere between 10-12 million viewers even though the frontrunner, Donald Trump, was not involved in the debate.

However, the future of presidential debates is by no means guaranteed. Although the Debate Committee has scheduled times and places for the Presidential debates next year, Larry remains skeptical that these debates will even take place. A lack of debates is not an unprecedented phenomenon. For instance, there were no televised presidential debates in 1964, 1968, and 1972.

JFK’s timeless legacy

John F. Kennedy is remembered for many reasons. He was the youngest elected President in US history, and he’s also one of the few presidents assassinated during his time in office.  However, few people remember just how effective Kennedy was as a president. Although JFK spent less than three years in office, he was able to effect more policy changes in those three short years than most presidents manage to do in two full terms.

Larry has for years been interested in Kennedy’s presidency, his assassination, and his continuing legacy. Regarding the conspiracy theories that persist concerning Kennedy’s assassination, Larry doubts that all the pertinent documents and records that might shed light on the crime will be released in his lifetime, although November 22, 2023 marked the 60th anniversary of the event.

The 2024 election: Will we see another Trump-Biden race?

In 2007, everyone believed that the 2008 presidential race would be between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Larry saw things differently, though, and made the bold prediction that neither of these candidates would be on the ballot, and he was right. Naturally, I wanted to get Larry’s opinion on who will be on the ballot in 2024 since things seem to be set in stone now. Much like in 2007, Larry believes that things are not as set as many may believe. However, this year, his reasoning is a bit different. Larry noted that Trump and Biden are two of the oldest presidential candidates ever seen, meaning that either’s health could deteriorate rather quickly. This, of course, could lead to some unexpected names on the ballot.

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