Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South.

Recent Articles


I have new online piece analyzing the Republican battle tonight here in Iowa. Short version: Whether Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney is victorious, neither will actually win. Potentially, real winner is John McCain . --Tom Schaller


I know it's unwise to make public predictions, and I also see the polls showing both Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee surging, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Democrat Hillary Clinton might still win this thing in Iowa, and that Mitt Romney is even more likely than she is to hold on for the Republican victory. I'm much less confident about the Clinton prediction, so let me start with her. First, there's no doubt that we're going to see a turnout surge, and that's probably bad news for John Edwards . So the question becomes whether it's a major surge (good for Obama) or a smaller one (good for Clinton). And even if the higher turnout does not reach Obama-favorable heights, Clinton has the further problem of having fewer second-preference voters; like the rest of America, people either like Mrs. Non-Ambivalence or they don't. So, now that it sounds like I've talked myself out of this prediction, how is it she wins? Well, I just don't think all of those young people and...

Why Iowa Means Nothing to the GOP

The Republican race in Iowa was an increasingly bitter battle between Huckabee and Romney. Is the real outcome a victory for one of the candidates who stayed out of the brawl?

Leo Skogen listens to Republican presidential hopeful, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, speak at the Chicago Dawg in Mason City, Iowa Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
With Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses finally upon us, will all of the time, effort, and televised media invested actually matter in the selection of the 2008 Republican presidential nominee? Even for the two candidates, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, with any chance of winning, it is easy to imagine that a victory could turn out to be a springboard to, well, nothing . Not that such a fate would be unprecedented. Of the past four presidents, only the current White House occupant won the Iowa caucuses during his initial presidential run. Though hard to believe now, in 1980 Ronald Reagan lost this heartiest of heartland states to George H.W. Bush, who, eight years later as the incumbent vice president and his party’s heir apparent, promptly lost Iowa to Bob Dole. Even the current President Bush’s 2000 victory meant so little that Sen. John McCain squashed him in New Hampshire the following week. The notion of an Iowa bounce for Republican hopefuls is a myth that should have been...


Though Mike Huckabee is the surprise candidate of the 2008 Republican presidential contest, John McCain is the real wild card. Hoping to use Huckabee as the tip of his spear, McCain came to Des Moines last night for one last stab in Mitt Romney’s back. At an evening press conference in his Urbandale (suburban Des Moines) headquarters last night, McCain again went after the former Massachusetts governor, who McCain needs to finish weakly, ideally second, and stumble into New Hampshire bruised and battered enough for McCain to catch him there. McCain is using foreign policy credentials as a cudgel to batter Romney as unready to lead the party; in this sense, McCain is playing a “ready to lead from day one” card similar to that used by Hillary Clinton to criticize Barack Obama . Just yesterday, the McCain camp released a new foreign policy-themed ad and accompanying statement from Senate colleague and longtime supporter Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. His ad mocks Romney for...


So I may be one of the earliest-rising media folks here in Iowa, waking at 4:40 EST to do some interviews with CBC Radio in Canada. And this is the cover photo that greeted me from today's Des Moines Regi ster. The banner headline read, simply, Now, You Decide. The lead story by the Register's Thomas Beaumont suggests that there will be a surge of new and independent voters, the disproportionate share of them turning out to participate in the Democratic caucuses: If polls and turnout forecasts are accurate, Iowa independents would be following the lead set by their national peers in 2006. Nationwide, independents backed Democrats heavily in the watershed 2006 elections, in part out of a rejection of President Bush and a loud cry for change that has continued into the 2008 campaign, strategists in both parties agree. Recent polls have shown the percentage of Iowa independents planning to participate in the Democratic caucuses is far higher than those who say they will caucus for...