Sabato is a former Rhodes Scholar and Danforth Fellow. After he received his B. A. in government from the University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1974, he did a year's graduate study in public policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Upon receipt of the Rhodes scholarship in 1975, he left Princeton to begin study at Queen's College, Oxford University. In less than two years he received his doctorate in politics from Oxford, and was invited to become a tutor (instructor) for students in the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) program.
In January 1978 he was elected Lecturer in Politics at New College, Oxford. He joined the faculty at the University of Virginia in September 1978.
Dr. Sabato's best known book was entitled Feeding Frenzy: How Attack Journalism Has Transformed American Politics. Published in 1991, the book received widespread attention nationally during the 1992 presidential election.
His previous books include an investigation of the influential corps of American political consultants and their new campaign technologies (such as polling, direct mail, and television advertising) entitled, The Rise of Political Consultants: New Ways of Winning Elections (1981) and a study of the American state governors over thirty years, Goodbye to Good-Time Charlie: The American Governorship Transformed (1983).
Dr. Sabato has appeared on dozens of nationally broadcast television shows, including "Nightline", "Face the Nation", "The Today Show", "Good Morning America", "48 Hours, and "Larry King Live." HE has served on many national and state commissions, including the National Commission for the Renewal of American Democracy; the U.S. Senate Campaign Finance Reform Panel; and the Governor's Commission on Campaign Finance Reform, Government Accountability, and Ethics.
He is the recipient of more than two dozen major scholarships, grants, and academic awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, the Outstanding Young Teacher Award from the University of Virginia, and the 1993 Outstanding Professor Award from the Virginia State Council of Higher Education. His visiting appointments include that of Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution and Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge University, England.