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


Dana’s article about the possibility of a former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton angling to be future New York Gov. Hillary Clinton isn't that far-fetched of a scenario. Personally, I think Clinton is a skilled senator, which is not a veiled suggestion that she is incapable of being a chief executive but merely an observation that she is a natural legislator. To avoid the perception that she’s office-shopping, herewith a few pointers for Clinton: First, make sure you have a reason for running other than being “in it to win it.” Second, assuming there is either a serious primary and general election opponent (a big assumption, given New York electoral politics lately), don’t underestimate their challenges. Third, switch residences with Bill so you’re in Chappaqua and he’s spending most of his time either down at the Whitehaven house in Washington or even his apartment atop his presidential library in Little Rock…far, far from the action. --Tom Schaller


Electoral forecaster Stu Rothenberg recently updated his “dozen most vulnerable open House seats,” including the first three he deems “likely to go Democratic and…in a class of their own.” Of the remaining nine, all but two are Republican open seats.You can read the whole column, which originally appeared in Roll Call, here , but the following are all 12 seats with some of Rothenberg's descriptions: IL-11 : Debbie Halvorson (D) “a formidable nominee” in good shape because GOP primary winner dropped out. NY-25 : Dan Maffei (D) almost beat retiring Jim Walsh (R) in 2006, should have good shot this time. VA-11 : Tom Davis’ (R) finally retires, and “general drift of Washington, D.C.’s Virginia suburbs” favors the Democrats, with primary to come. OH-16 : Ralph Regula’s (R) gone, giving Democratic state senator John Boccieri a solid opening. AZ-1 : This was a disappointing loss in previous cycles for Democrats, but Rick Renzi’s (R) troubles finally caught up with him and he is not running...


Contra my predicted-the-2006-midterms-pretty-damn-well book , might there just be a 2008 resurgence for Democrats in southern House seats? I’m not convinced yet. But two recent polls of upcoming special election races, both by Anzalone Liszt Research , suggest even in the Republicans’ strongest strongholds may be weakening. In MS-01, Democrat Travis Childers is basically tied with Republican Greg Davis ; there is a special election primary on April 22, with a run-off on May 13, if necessary. Check out Swing State Project for more. Meanwhile, in LA-6, Democrat Don Cazayoux (great name for Cajun politics!), leads Republican Woody Jenkins by five points in their upcoming, May 5 contest. ( Swing State Project has more on the Childers-Davis race here ; MyDD's Jonathan Singer has more here about the Cazayoux--I just like typing that name--matchup with Jenkins.) Even with the note of caution that Anzalone is a Democratic firm, it would be interesting to see how these two races shake out...


LifetimeTV has a new poll out reporting women’s attitudes on the presidential candidates. The big story? If she’s not careful, Hillary Clinton , to borrow a self-destructive line Barack Obama used back in New Hampshire, may be slipping into the “likeable enough” range among women: Hillary Clinton was the only candidate who registered a significant net change in public opinion since January: 26% of women surveyed said they like her less now compared to just 15% who said they like her more. Still, 55% said their opinion of Clinton has not changed. Women who said they like Clinton more now largely pointed to aspects of her personality (67%)—noting that she is tough or a fighter. Likewise, those whose opinion of her declined also pointed to her personal traits (67%)—namely saying that she is dishonest. What, specifically, is causing her dip? Hubby Bill. Six percent cited Bill Clinton as the reason their opinion of Hillary has improved; but more than double (15%) said their view of Senator...


Mike Madden of Salon has a great takedown on Mark Penn and the costs (financial and otherwise) Penn and his firm's consultancy created for the Hillary Clinton campaign. The sums boggle the mind, but Madden’s string of rhetorical questions, as Chazz Michael Michaels might say, “bottle” the mind: [W]hat are [donors to the campaign] getting for their money? Do the seniors who aren't taking medication really think [Howard] Wolfson's daily conference calls with the press are worth the $8,000 a week he made while Clinton lost primary after primary in February? Did Penn's direct mail really give Clinton an edge worth $8.9 million in the race against Obama ? Don't candidates who are suddenly raising most of their money from people who can barely afford to send it in have some responsibility not to waste it once they get it? The sheer amount of money raised -- and spent -- this election ought to finally focus some attention on the consultant pay scales quietly established over the years in...