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 don’t know who is heckling John McCain during his economic speech this morning in Washington, but it really needs to stop. Every time the cameras and microphones pick up the sights or sounds of somebody shouting at McCain, followed reflexively by boos from the rest of the attendees, all it does is create sympathy for McCain. Heckling at an event like this morning’s speech is not political action so much as it is muddleheaded vanity. —Tom Schaller


Let's stipulate right off the bat that there were some unacceptably nasty comments , images and videos used to denigrate Hillary Clinton because she was a female candidate for president or just because she was a woman, period. But was sexism the reason for her failed campaign? Hardly. None of the many fatal errors made by her campaign had anything to do with her treatment, sexist or otherwise, by the media or Barack Obama and his campaign. Neither the media nor Obama was responsible for the Clinton campaign’s use of a high-overhead, direct mail and $2,300-large-donor fundraising model that made chairman Terry McAuliffe the greatest fundraiser in either party’s history but now seems outmoded; for the decision to appoint and then stick too long with Patti Solis Doyle as campaign manager; for the decision to make Mark Penn both chief strategist and lead pollster; for the campaign’s false confidence that her nomination was inevitable and thus the whole race would be over by Super Tuesday...

Did Road to Unity Begin in Virginia?

Before sneaking off to a secret meeting with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama spoke kindly about Hillary Clinton at a rally in Virginia. His supporters weren't so nice.

A mixed-raced audience of amped-up supporters braved Northern Virginia's rush hour traffic and the oppressive humidity of the summer's first major heat wave yesterday to catch a glimpse of their newly-crowned Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama. With a punctuality that would impress President Bush, the event at Bristol's Nissan Pavilion started promptly at 6 p.m. This seemed surprising at the time, but may have been because he was eager to be on time to his later personal meeting with Sen. Hillary Clinton in Washington. As Democrats await news from that meeting to leak out, Obama finds himself in a weird electoral limbo in which he has wrapped up the nomination but still awaits the formal end this Saturday of the Clinton campaign, and an eventual endorsement and unity moment with her at some event in the near future. Meanwhile, speculation continues unabated about a possible "dream team" pairing the two senators on the presidential ticket. In Virginia, Obama didn't talk...


The New York Times has produced this stunning graphic of the location and magnitude of support for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (click for a larger version). You can see it for yourself and read the interesting captions, but the one that stood out most to me is that Obama's overall net lead in total popular votes among the nearly 36 million cast can be accounted for by his margins in Cook County alone. Two words: wow and wow. Relatedly, as Justin Sizemore points out in his piece I mentioned earlier today, Obama's delegate strategy helped him yield more net delegates from his wins in Illinois and Georgia than Clinton did in her wins in California and New York, even though CA is larger than IL and NY larger than GA. --Tom Schaller


I should have gotten around to nakedly self-promoting this earlier in the week when it first posted, but I did one of those Salon “conversations” on the subject of race and the Democratic primary, along with Princeton’s Sean Wilentz and The Century Foundation’s Ruy Teixeira , hosted by Salon’s Mark Schone . You can read the transcript and/or listen to the audio here . It’s also available for download through iTunes at the Salon “Conversations” page. Basic summary: It’s obviously impossible to disentangle and therefore measure exactly how much race factored into voting for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama , but surely it mattered some to some voters and perhaps a lot to a subset of those voters. And this was within the Democratic primary, mind you; Obama, I suspect, will have another Philadelphia speech-like moment in the general election he’ll have to manage. --Tom Schaller