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


Presume for a moment that the Jeremiah Wright controversies (plural now) would have eventually made national headlines.* For Barack Obama or Democrats more generally, when would it have been best for this story to break? Consider four possibilities: (a) Last autumn , before Obama rose up to catch Hillary Clinton ; (b) this spring , after he had built his delegate and popular vote leads over her; (c) early this summer , after he presumably clinched the nomination but a few months before the Democratic National Convention; or (d) at or anytime after the DNC convention and before the general election. Certainly, the ranking would have to be (from best to worst) c/b/a/d if you’re a Democrat in general and want to win in November, with maybe a/c/b/d if you’re a Clinton-supporting Democrat or perhaps c/b/d/a if you’re an Obama-supporting Democrat. Point is: Other than breaking in early summer, if Obama people and generic Democrats had a choice, having the story break now is better than...


Chris Bowers is worried about Barack Obama’s scheduled appearance this weekend on Fox News Sunday . I was a bit skeptical myself about the decision until TPM’s Greg Sargent reported that a top Obama campaign official told him that Obama will "take on" Fox, whatever that means. Here’s what the adviser told Sargent: “We are clear-eyed about Fox's role in the dissemination and amplification of Republican talking points this election. They have been the tip of the spear when it comes to repeatedly broadcasting some of the most specious of rumors about Obama. He is going on their Sunday show to take Fox on, not because we have any illusion about their motives or politics in this election." That sounds worthy. But on second thought, I’m still skeptical about this move. First, Obama’s appearance could prove especially interesting given that the Fox folks now know they may be getting more than they bargained for and will thus be on high alert. But second, because this might be an attempt by...


Even though her Pennsylvania win is arguably Hillary Clinton's biggest since New Hampshire -- especially given the gobs of cash she’s raised since Tuesday night -- the fact is that the chances of a Clinton comeback, though better now than they were Monday, are still slim. And so, though some folks are going to find my column today in the Baltimore Sun a bit premature, and maybe very presumptuous, the issue of her departure from the race will need to be addressed. A quick sample: A year ago -- heck, even five months ago -- Mrs. Clinton's nomination was generally viewed as certain. Compounding the jarring effect of her transformation from inevitable winner into underachieving runner-up is the lost opportunity of her nomination as a potentially historic moment. The combined effect will make Mrs. Clinton's defeat a tougher pill to swallow - for her, for her supporters and for other key elements of the Democratic coalition, especially women, who cast a majority of votes in the country and...


I have mad respect for Tom Edsall , truly, but he’s just plain wrong in his new HuffPo piece about how the white male voter just must be crucial (as ever...yawn) to all things electoral in American politics. And invoking the Pennsylvania primary as a case in point was not the way to go. Computing the crosstabs from last night's results (see page 6 of 7 of exits here ), I have Hillary Clinton earning a net advantage of 16.6% from her support among white women, because she won them 68-32% and they constitute 46% of all voters. By contrast, she netted just 4.6% from white men, because she won them more narrowly (57-43%) and they were a much smaller share of the electorate (33% of voters statewide). Overall, then, her total net white advantage was 21.2%. Barack Obama won blacks overwhelmingly, giving him about 12% statewide overall margin from their votes, thereby producing the final statewide margin of 9 percent. Clinton thus produced almost four-fifths of that advantage among whites...


So, David Sirota is correct again about the curious, but entirely logical u-shaped relationship between states' black population share and Barack Obama’s performance. Obama does well where the black population is low (and therefore racial polarization is low as well) or high (black votes swamp out polarizing effects). Hillary Clinton wins the states with medium-sized black populations where polarization is strong enough to overwhelm the black voting base. This is why Obama should do well in North Carolina and Indiana should be competitive -- just as the polls as of now suggest. --Tom Schaller