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


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...


In the latest installment of my Baltimore Sun column I discuss the surprising number of policy reversals by John McCain in just the past month. The theme of the column draws heavily from Cliff Schecter’s new book, The Real McCain , in which he writes: "A conditional friend to conservatives, an appealing maverick to independents, and a noxious Bush apologist to Democrats, McCain is a unique blend of allegiances and enmities in American politics. What conservatives misread as disloyalty to the cause isn't that at all; what moderates and independents value of McCain's free thinking isn't that, either." Though it’s hard to find somebody with as encyclopedic knowledge of McCain as Cliff, the ever-diligent Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report may be the one challenger. Steve, you see, is making a list (and checking it twice) of McCain’s bottomless beach basket of flip flops. So far he has identified—you may need to take a seat here—a whopping four dozen policy position changes and...


Wow: Here’s Obama’s first national ad as the nominee. It's "Country I Love" and it reaches directly for the “values” card the Republicans love to play, shreds it into a million little pieces and throws the scraps in their faces. The not-so-subtle imagery -- pictures of Obama with his mom and her parents, mentions of supporting “welfare to work” and backing our troops -- quite clearly say to white voters, "Don’t ever dare try to paint me with your 'out-of-touch, unpatriotic elite who doesn’t share our values' brush." And then there’s the group of states where the 60-second ad will run: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. I’m not convinced that North Carolina and (especially) Georgia are worth the expenditure, but I like seeing Alaska, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota (!) and, yes, Virginia in the mix. Shall we consider this...


Should Obama pick Hillary for veep? My friend Ed Kilgore and I debate that proposition over at Salon . He says “ yes ” and I say “ no .” We debate, you decide. --Tom Schaller


With all due respect to Time's Ana Marie Cox and AP’s Nedra Pickler -- or for that matter, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe's strategic plan, as reported by Pickler and blogged by Cox -- I must rudely note that there are a few of us, particularly many western Democrats, who have been saying for years now that there are ways to get to 270 by starting more or less with the John Kerry -won states and building out from there, and yes, even without either Florida or Ohio. In the afterword to the paperback edition of Whistling Past Dixie , written almost a year ago and published in January before we knew the nominee, I identified five paths to get to 270. Single-shot wins in either Ohio or Florida are just two, but three others without OH or FL include the “southwest passage” of 19 electors from the three, non-Arizona Southwest states, and two variations on what I call the “36th parallel” strategy involving Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia. (Arguably, Hillary Clinton would...