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


So Bill Bradley gave an impromptu pep talk to about 80 Barack Obama volunteers in a small, business courtyard just off Main Street in downtown Concord. Standing on a granite bench, he was really quite moving. (Our our Mark Schmitt might have got a bit misty, if he were there.) After talking about Obama’s transformative politics themes, he used a very powerful metaphor that really moved the volunteers: You know, you see a lot of politicians on the stage and the light shines on them, they kind of swell, you know? ‘Yeah, I’m in the spotlight.’ But Barack reflects that light--doesn’t absorb it--but reflects it back on the people themselves. And when he reflects it back on the people themselves it is because he cannot imagine government without thinking of the people, and that is why the people can imagine him as president of the United States. --Tom Schaller


Concord is a bit nuts early this afternoon. There was the Huckaburger event . McCain's folks are readying right now for a 2 p.m. speech across the street in front of the state house. Obama's and Clinton's volunteers were outside with signs doing visibility, and I caught an impromptu volunteer rally speech by Obama endorser Bill Bradley . So, I was pissed I couldn't get into the Barley ale house for the Huckaburger event. Huckabee's son, David (pictured), who was recently arrested on a gun charge, gave me the, um, skinny. "It was a herb-rubbed bison burger with baby spinach on a whole wheat English muffin," he said. Is it good? "I've never had one." Your dad's not a vegetarian, is he? "No." Are you? "No." Do you think your dad's weight loss is an issue in this campaign? "I don't think so." Then he got a bit edgy and said he wouldn't take any more questions. --Tom Schaller


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...