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

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...

THE WRIGHT TIMING.

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...

OBAMA ON FOX

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...

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