Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.

Recent Articles


Well, it's an honor to be back here at the Prospect, even for the day, subbing for Ezra , who said in his final post last night that he couldn't bring himself to watch George Bush's farewell speech to the nation . I did. I even bit a hole through my lip while listening to Bill O'Reilly claim afterward that the American people like Bush as a person, as a "man," even if they don't like him as president. Here's what bothers me most about the way in which Bush justifies and rationalizes his presidency: He uses counterfactuals and hypotheticals when they suit him, and not when they don't. For example, he likes to boast that he kept the country from being attacked again after September 11. He pointed to that objective fact and took credit last night, as he has been for some time now and did in the run-up to his 2004 re-election. But moments earlier in last night's speech from the East Room, Bush came close to admitting that the economy was in horrible shape but conveniently explained that...

Five Questions About the New Electorate

For a decade or more, we've been promised an electoral transformation: Younger voters, minorities, and women will prevail over the older, conservative majority. Is this the year the predictions come true?

For a decade, Democrats have heard promises that a durable electoral majority was just around the corner. It's easy to construct such a majority on paper: Racial minorities and young voters (those born after 1978) turn out at record levels, working-class whites suppress their socially conservative leanings to vote their pocketbooks, and suburban professionals and their spouses vote together as unified blue households. Such a coalition could obliterate the aging, white, male, socially conservative Republican base that has dominated American politics for most of the past three decades. This majority, however, is like the carrot tied in front of the donkey's nose--always just a few inches away. Yes, the Democratic presidential nominee won the popular vote in three of the past four presidential elections. But since 1964, only one Democrat has won a majority of the popular vote. During those same 10 presidential elections, the Republicans have won seven times, five of them with outright...

A Walk Among the Blue Dogs

Tom Schaller scores a ticket to a Denver event for the Blue Dog caucus and, as Code Pink protests and corporates sponsors look on, considers the role of centrists in today's Democratic Party.

Editors' Note: This piece has been corrected . Jason Smith was not exactly the type of Blue Dog I expected to run into at the invitation-only "A Blue Night in Denver" party the conservative Democratic group hosted here Sunday night. I met Smith by chance at the bar at Mile High Station, a spacious, two-level venue located almost directly underneath the section of Interstate 25 that overpasses Route 70. Organizers cleared the parking lot in the back and erected a giant white tent to house an outdoor soundstage. Above that tent was a massive highway billboard advertising Oliver Stone's new biopic W. , replete with the promotional photo of Josh Brolin as The Decider leaning back in his Oval Office chair with cowboy boot-clad feet stretched out in front of him. I pointed to the billboard as a way to strike up a conversation with Smith, whose lapel pin said he was from Texas, a tough state for a Democrat of any ideological stripe. The 40-year-old trial lawyer from Fort Worth turned out to...


It was announced today that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will campaign together next Friday. OK, let’s have some fun with this one. What’s going to be the big storyline? And what’s going to be the cute tag name for these events? I stink at this sort of thing, but I’ll go with Barack-Hill-a-palooza. (They are both iconic people who can be referred to by first names only.) On a more serious note, my bet is that the major storyline will be that Obama will smartly opt to introduce Hillary at the event(s) and let her speech be the focal point, rather than having her open with the standard, rah-rah introduction before yielding the stage to him. --Tom Schaller


Whatever you thought of Tim Russert , boy did it take guts for Linda Hirshman at The Nation to write this critique of him. As for me, I only had one interaction with him in my life, and it was at a Mike Huckabee event in January at the Val Air ballroom in Des Moines. Russert was standing alone in the crowd near the back and I went up to him. I had a press badge on, though I’m not sure he saw that. I asked him what he thought about Huckabee. He just put his hands up in a semi-surrender way; he literally would not say one word. At first, I took his (non-)response to be rude. But I later realized he probably felt he had a duty not to express an opinion, whatever it was, about people he had or would have to (again) interview some day. On the one hand you could take this as an indication of inflated self-regard, but the more I thought about it the more I concluded he just felt like he had to be as neutral a referee as possible. (But again, read Hirshman’s critique, which makes several...