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


Can we glean anything from the late Democratic polls? Maybe we can. Consider that, absent ties, there are but six possible permutations for the order in a three-way race among Hillary Clinton , Barack Obama and John Edwards : CEO , COE , OCE , OEC , EOC , and ECO . (Some of which make for nice acronyms!) Of these, I can find polls that account for the first four of the possible six orderings. With a hat-tip to today’s Polltrack feature at the National Journal (subscription req.), complemented by the new Reuters/C-Span/Zogby results, here they are: COE : American Research Group CEO : LA Times/Bloomberg OEC : Reuters/C-Span/Zogby OCE : Des Moines Register Maybe this just means the race is too damn close to call. But notice that the only two combinations missing are those with Edwards at the top . He’s consistently second or third...sometimes by a lot, sometimes by a little, but always out of first. It’s difficult not to conclude, even from this jumble and with all the arguments about...


It's still unclear whether there are second-choice directives from other second-tier candidacies beyond that of Dennis Kucinich to caucus with Barack Obama , and maybe Obama won't need such green lights because the caucus-goers will make that decision themselves. (I asked David Plouffe about this last night and his stock answer was basically that it matters which county and precinct, which is obviously true but not very helpful.) But the second-choicers will only matter if Obama really has his newbie and indies out. And, though Dana Milbank's survey of the Obama audience last night is entirely anecdotal, and though I do not think Obama's non-resident issue is anywhere near as problematic as Howard Dean's inorganic campaign was four years ago, some of the folks cheering Obama just aren't eligible. At every event, as Milbank points out, Obama asks how many people have never caucused before. Somewhere between 30 percent and 40 percent raise their hands. (This was also true at the...


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...