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

SUPERDAWDLERS.

Before the early (often inaccurate) exit polls start trickling in from Indiana and North Carolina, let’s just state in advance that if Barack Obama wins both states, that’s it for Hillary Clinton ; conversely, if she wins both, whatever his numerical advantages in pledged delegates, and despite the fact that he has shrunk her lead among superdelegates into the teens now, he enters a very dangerous stage. Of course, most likely she’ll win Indiana and he will win North Carolina. That means things will continue to chug along, with Obama making progress in the literal sense that he moves closer to the 2,025 threshold (equally-sized wins in the two states should provide him more net delegates, given that NC is larger), but appearing to stall in the momentum and narrative senses. Which brings me to my point: Starting tomorrow, there will be fewer pledged delegates to win in the remaining contests than there will be undecided superdelegates left to persuade, and those as-yet-unannounced...

RICH IS RICH.

I meant to get to this yesterday, but since the arguments are still plenty fresh, check out Frank Rich’s column in the Sunday New York Times ; it may be the best thing written during the post- Jeremiah Wright phase of the Democratic primary battle. After noting how all televised clips from people like Jerry Falwell , Pat Robertson and John Hagee were curious absent from our television screens of late, despite the fact that they didn’t just say “God damned America” but, worse, blamed Americans for the September 11 attacks, Rich cuts to the core truth about the double-standard at work here: None of this is to say that two wacky white preachers make a Wright right. It is entirely fair for any voter to weigh Mr. Obama ’s long relationship with his pastor in assessing his fitness for office. It is also fair to weigh Mr. Obama’s judgment in handling this personal and political crisis as it has repeatedly boiled over. But whatever that verdict, it is disingenuous to pretend that there isn’t...

MCCAIN V2.008.

I was as surprised as most everyone else this past Sunday afternoon at a Washington party to celebrate Arianna Huffington’s new book, Right is Wrong , when in her remarks to the assembled Huffington said John and Cindy McCain confessed to her after the 2000 election (back when Arianna was still on the dark side) that neither of them voted for George W. Bush . Huffington wrote about this episode yesterday, noting how incongruent it is that McCain has since embraced the wildly unpopular George W. Bush yet remains viable in the presidential race: But a large portion of the electorate hasn't noticed the Shakespearean fall. How else to explain The 28/48 Disconnect -- wherein only a die-hard 28 percent of voters still approve of Bush, but 48 percent say they'd vote for McCain, who is running on the "more of the same" platform? The thing is, these voters clearly still think of McCain as the maverick of 2000, a straight shooter who would never seek the embrace of a man he couldn't bring...

HILLARY'S BLACKOUT

I have new piece out today in Salon arguing that, had Hillary Clinton kept her support levels to just 20 percent among African Americans, she would be leading the popular vote and down probably 100 total delegates. And if 20 percent seems like a ridiculous supposition, consider that she got 19 percent in South Carolina--a state that voted long after the supposedly-dooming Iowa caucus result, and one in which many if not most blacks voted without having heard Bill Clinton’s crass analogy* about Jesse Jackson twice having won the state—and 22 percent in Tennessee on Super Tuesday. But the key argument of the piece is that Obama fundamentally changed wine track/beer track calculus by moving black voters from the latter to the former coalition: Since the days of Adlai Stevenson -- which is to say, since the civil rights movement finally guaranteed the franchise for black voters -- the fate of candidates favored by so-called wine-track Democrats usually ends the same way. From Eugene...

SID VICIOUSLY.

I got to know Sid Blumenthal four years ago when he asked me to write a Salon piece about the decline of the Howard Dean campaign. He seemed like a nice enough person and a good editor. Over the years I’ve asked him for advice. I like his son, Max , a lot: Great guy, great progressive, and master of the gotcha video interview. In January, a week after the New Hampshire primary, I ran into Sid in Rock Creek Park while we were both walking our dogs. Unsolicited, he asked me if I had seen the story out that day or the day before about Tony Rezko , or if I heard or knew about Rezko. (I hadn’t, at that point.) He continued to press me about whether I really knew Obama, but by the time we said goodbye I simply chalked it up to a guy who really supports Hillary Clinton and believes strongly in her and I didn’t think much of the encounter. But now comes this powerful indictment in HuffPo by Peter Dreier of Blumenthal’s activity behind scenes culling, distributing and trying to induce members...

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