Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress but Surrendered the White House.

Recent Articles


My political science colleague Phil Klinkner , of Hamilton College, and I recently co-wrote one of nine articles published by The Forum as part of a post-2008 election analysis colloquium. In our piece , entitled "LBJ's Revenge: The 2008 Election and the Rise of the Great Society Coalition," we argue that the policies LBJ supported in the mid-60s led, not initially but eventually, to Barack Obama's winning general election coalition in 2008. I have to give Phil credit for making the link between the Civil Rights Act (blacks, mostly), Immigration and Nationality Act (Latinos/as), and the Higher Education Act (upscale, educated whites), and the coalition Obama assembled last year. What LBJ could not have anticipated then -- or, more to the point, Hillary Clinton failed to prevent in 2008 -- was Obama's ability to also build a new coalition in the primary as well, specifically by taking the African-American vote away from its usual alliance with working-class whites and other non-whites...


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