With sixty days left to campaign, University of Virginia Politics Professor Larry Sabato gave the Democratic party a bit of a shock this morning, predicting that Republicans would dominate midterm elections, winning a majority in the House and picking up eight or nine seats in the Senate.
"The Democratic position has deteriorated very badly over the summer. In some cases in private polls, the bottom has fallen out for Democrats. It's mainly due to the bad economy and Democrats are seen as having over-promised and under-delivered," Sabato told CBS News Congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes on Thursday's "Washington Unplugged."
"It's also due to Republican enthusiasm- it's just through the roof," Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said.
In his Labor Day "Crystal Ball" predictions, Sabato projects Republicans will win as many as 47 seats in the House, more than the 39 needed for the GOP to take back the majority.
"Don't be shocked if the Republicans take over the Senate too," he said. Sabato predicts Republicans will pick up eight or nine seats there (they need 10 to take the majority), plus eight or nine governors races.
He called the Tea Party a "net positive" for Republicans. While the movement may have cost Republicans some seats by nominating "candidates that are not nearly as strong as some mainstream candidates," the enthusiasm factor was far more significant.
In midterm elections "only about 40 percent will come out to vote. That's why enthusiasm is so important. Republicans have got it and Democrats are depressed."
Sabato called today's predictions "conservative" and "cautious." "We could have gone well beyond 47," he said.
CBS News senior political producer Jill Jackson and CBS Radio News White House correspondent Peter Maer were also on Thursday's "Washington Unplugged" with Cordes.
"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.