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


Shepard Fairey, the artist responsible for both the iconic, Andre the Giant "Obey" campaign now enjoying its 20th anniversary, and the red-and-blue Obama "Hope" image that is now an officially sanctioned by the campaign and presidential inauguration committee, was on The Colbert Report last night. He seemed shy, almost uncomfortable during his interview. Extra points for wearing a T-shirt featuring "The Clash." Not much to say here, other than (1) I wouldn't mind swapping bank accounts with Fairey right about now; and (2) if you want to Fairey-ize an image of yourself, you can do so at this site . Pretty cool. --Tom Schaller


I have been ruminating the last couple of days on Barack Obama’s dinner party with conservative commentators, hosted by George Will earlier this week. I don’t mind that Obama is trying to disarm his critics. If a dinner causes the conservative journalists in attendance to pull even a few punches, or even cheer the occasional Obama decision, great. I also understand the desire to be the president of “all the people.” That’s noble. And I respect the fact that, as EJ Dionne argued in yesterday's WaPo, Obama is confident enough to spar intellectually with smart people of differing philosophical views. But my worry is that Obama will succumb to the (Bill) Clintonian penchant for worrying about detractors and foes, before considering supporters and allies. Being inclusive and trying to listen to one’s critics is fine. But you can’t win over anybody, and there is vanity in believing that yes, you can. Opponents should have a voice, but proponents should come first. --Tom Schaller


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...