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


With New Hampshire voters headed to polls tomorrow, I think the key questions on each side are these: 1. If Barack Obama wins, as he is now expected to do , what sort of margin ratifies the narrative that emerged from Iowa that Hillary Clinton is in serious trouble, and what margin (if any) might reverse it? If he only wins by six or less, and certainly if it’s just 2 or 3, I think she’ll be able to spin it as closer and thus she’s “closing the gap” with him. That is, she’ll at that point concede that he’s the frontrunner (thus goading the media to start covering him tougher, which we should) and can position herself as the “comeback girl.” It’s not the first time a Clinton will have done that in Manchester. But if she loses by 10 or more, and certainly something like 15, I think that no matter what, a February 5 firewall (or the Clinton team’s new spin, the “Hispanic firewall) is going to be a tough strategy to execute. 2. John McCain is leading in the GOP polls, so basically any win...


I haven't seen John McCain yet, and regret that I missed his press conference in Urbandale on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. McCain didn't spend much time in Iowa, but he's all over the place here in New Hampshire. Tomorrow, he is holding rallies in seven major New Hampshire cities, starting in Nashua and ending in Portsmouth. McCain must know the state so well by now that he tells the bus drivers where to turn and park. His reversal of fortunes in the polls is stunning, as the polling history at Real Clear Politics shows. --Tom Schaller UPDATE : McCain says he "will win."


So I went to see Hillary at the Nashua North High School where Barack Obama spoke yesterday. A German reporter I know who was at both events said that his crowd was bigger, though some said hers was bigger at the start. But here's what's not in dispute: Hers was much, much smaller at the end. By my estimate, at least 500 and maybe 600 people had left before she finished. Why? Because she gave her stump speech (with some new twist, see below), and then took questions for more than an hour. Start to finish, and not counting the time people had to wait before she arrived and began, it was close to 1:45. That means some people invested, with drive time and waiting-to-start time upwards of 3 hours, maybe more, to see her. She was very thorough, very detailed in answering questions on disabilities, health care and even Irish diplomacy. But geez--it was like a Senate subcommittee hearing. I honestly cannot remember a longer campaign event. Rule 1 of campaign staging is try to have a room...


When the final analysis of this Democratic primary is written, the story will be that a black man and white woman had a very similar, but not identical task: make their identity part of, but not the whole of the change they offered, and to sell that change by making it palatable to the country, or at least the not insignificant (and not necessarily racist or sexist) portion of the public that, rightly or wrongly, was wary of digesting that change. And the outcome of that story will be this: Barack Obama was able to do it, but Hillary Clinton was not. The media, myself included, has been tough on Hillary at times. She’s had an unfair ride. She’s burdened by problems, including some created by her own husband that were not of her making yet were her obligation to correct or at least manage. It’s not been a fair campaign for Hillary, and from the start. But she could have done it. She could have made the first-woman-ever opportunity both a vessel for changing a country in which a...


Isn't it amazing, as Harold hinted at below, that Obama is such a phenomenon at this point that you have Republicans complimenting him? Is it possible for one candidate to win two debates in a single night, even if he's only entered in one? What's also clear to me is, a few polite barbs aside, how much more thoughtful and civil the tone of this debate is, compared to the earlier one. (On that note, I will have some juicy quotes from the Spin Room by Romney surrogate Ron Kauffman and McCain surrogate Lindsey Graham once I get them transcribed.) Totally different tenor. That said, isn't it about time that the national media narrative about which party "doesn't know what it stands for" and which party is a "compilation of its identity groups" officially shift from the Democrats to the Republicans? To me, it's clear how much the fate and ideas of the two parties have shifted since November 2004, and it's a stunning change. --Tom Schaller