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

The Republicans' Accountability Moment

Huckabee's win is a clear signal to the Republican Party that their internal divisions are not going away.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, speaks at a victory party in Des Moines, Iowa, after being declared the winner of the Iowa Caucus. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The Republican Party had an accountability moment last night in Iowa. Following two generations of ever-widening clout by Christian conservatives, last night's convincing victory by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee provided a warning to the establishment wing of the national Republican Party that it may no longer be able to pass off its preferred candidates to the party's most loyal supporters. In this largely-white, rural heartland state, where insurgent conservative candidates of the past have done well but usually finish second, Huckabee's evangelical-led, 34 percent to 25 percent Bible-thumping of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sends to national party leaders a powerful signal that evangelical votes cannot be taken for granted. "I never thought I'd be able to say I love a state as much as I love my home state of Arkansas, but tonight I love Iowa," Huckabee told his cheering supporters at a victory celebration in a ballroom at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines. "A...


As a follow-up to campaign deal-making, here’s a verbatim transcript of a quick one-on-one I had with Obama consultant David Axelrod : DA : All I’ll tell you is that we’re after everybody…we want to be everybody’s choice. I don’t know anything about deals. TS : Can you comment on whether you approached other candidates? DA : I didn’t approach any candidates. TS : Did David [Plouffe , campaign manager] or anyone else? DA : I…I…believe we are aggressively pursuing all second choice…all the second choice options directly in the precincts without deal-making. TS : So, as a matter of targeting not as a matter of deal-making? DA : That’s what I’m saying. There was a notable pause before that second-last question. Earlier in the day, a Dodd spokesman basically confessed that some of the top-tier candidates, without naming names, had approached their campaign, too. --Tom Schaller


...Obama is going to beat Hillary. The Obama people seem very bouyant, the Clintons not. David Axelrod, Obama campaign chair says he stopped trying to figure out if Clinton is doing down-in-the-mouth routine to lower expectations because they think she's gonna win or because she's going to lose. "I'm over-spun," he said. "Let's just put our cards on the table now." --Tom Schaller


Had a chance to corner, first, Gov. Bill Richardson , and then Sen. Joe Biden , at the Polk County Convention Center, which is ground zero tonight for the caucus results porting. I asked them both about how they felt their campaigns had finished, but also about any deal-making between the campaigns and what they thought might happen among the three top-tier candidates. Richardson, on him making deals, his goal for tonight, and the finish among the Top Three: “There’s no deal. This is typical last-minute rumors. Iowans will make up their own minds. My supporters are going out to support me.” “I’m aiming for final four, which is a good showing. A lot of the undecided are I think breaking our way. We’ve got momentum. I’m feeling good. We’ve got a good organization and I think we will be viable in most precincts.” “I don’t know. Any of the top three in the polls, we detect strength for them, but we detect strength for us, too.” Biden’s answers to same three questions: “There are deals...


Just a stray thought: John Edwards has that great line about the Democratic field being an “embarrassment of riches” and the GOP field just plain being an embarrassment. Though bearing no ill will to Republican spouses as people, isn’t that even more true of the major candidates’ wives and a certain notable husband? Michele Obama was very compelling the other day at an event in Grinnell. Elizabeth Edwards is bold and appealing, and keeps plugging away despite her health situation. And, of course, though Mr. Clinton has his detractors, his political abilities and stardom are not in question. A pack of Teresa Kerry’s this is not. Look: Ann Romney has a compelling health story of her own in battling multiple sclerosis, and I wouldn’t mess with Janet Huckabee because she might could have Cheney -like aim , but, at least among the top Iowa competitors, the Democrats have an undeniable spousal edge. --Tom Schaller