Bill Whalen

Research Fellow

Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow since 1999, writes and comments on campaigns, elections and governance with an emphasis on California and America’s political landscapes.

Whalen is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee and writes on politics and current events for His commentary can also be seen on the opinion pages of the Wall Street JournalReal Clear Politics, Los Angeles Times and the Fox News’ website.

Whalen has been a guest political analyst on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. He’s also a regular guest on the nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by John Batchelor, Larry Kudlow, Lars Larson and the Bay Area’s Michael Krasny.

Whalen has served as a media consultant for California political hopefuls and aspiring policy leaders. His past clients have included former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former congressman Tom Campbell and former Los Angeles mayor Richard J. Riordan.

Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Whalen served as chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California governor Pete Wilson. In that capacity, he was responsible for the governor's annual State of the State address, as well as other major policy addresses.

Before moving to California, Whalen was a political correspondent for Insight Magazine, the national newsweekly and sister publication of the Washington Times, where he was honored for his profiles and analysis of candidates, campaigns, Congress, and the White House. During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.

In addition to his time in Washington as a political journalist, Whalen served as a speechwriter for the Bush-Quayle reelection campaign and was a senior associate with the public relations firm Robinson-Lake/Sawyer-Miller, offering media and political advice for domestic and foreign clientele.

Whalen currently resides in Palo Alto, California.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

California's Legislative Session: A Triumph For Those Who Trash Trump And Troglodytes

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, September 18, 2017

Near the end of the Oscar-winning Chariots Of Fire, there’s a scene where the fabled track coach Sam Mussabini berates sprinter Harold Abrahams over his poor performance in an Olympics heat.

Analysis and Commentary

If Gov. Brown Insists On Traveling, Here’s Where He Should Go

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

After six years of rarely venturing beyond California, Jerry Brown is spreading his wings. Earlier this month, it was a quick trip to an economic conference in Vladivostok, Russia. In November, he’s off to Germany for a U.N. conference on climate change.

Analysis and Commentary

File Under 'Nobody Cheers For Goliath': California Wanting To Vote Early In 2020

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, September 11, 2017

It turns out that there’s a fine line between California dreaming and California scheming. Just ask Democratic state lawmakers who want to advance the state’s presidential primary as early as possible in 2020 – to early March and at the front of the line after the opening caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Analysis and Commentary

On A Sad Note, Even Notes Between Presidents Aren't What They Used To Be

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, September 3, 2017

In a White House that leaks worse than most colanders, it’s surprising that it took this long (226 days since Donald Trump took office) to learn what advice Barack Obama left to his successor.

Analysis and Commentary

Kamala Harris, Flash And Style, Can’t Measure Up To Dianne Feinstein

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, August 31, 2017

I won’t try to guess Feinstein’s move. But I hope she’ll consider what’s best for her and for California – and seek another six-year term until, maybe, someone with her gravitas comes along.

Analysis and Commentary

Once The Floodwaters Recede, Will Trump Have Seized The Political High Ground?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Rahm Emanuel is famous for two things. One is this quote: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that: it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” That passage comes to mind watching President Trump’s stops in Texas and Missouri. Amidst a terrible tragedy, there’s opportunity for this president. Will he seize the moment?

Analysis and Commentary

If Viewers Are Willing To Pay For Mayweather-McGregor, Will Voters Spring For Hillary's Book?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Friday, August 25, 2017

A simple question: if you’re willing to shell out a nickel shy out $100 to watch this weekend’s bout between Floyd Mayweather and UFC Champion Conor McGregor, will you spend another $30 to read Hillary Clinton’s round-by-round analysis of her presidential campaign’s failure?

GOP Image
Analysis and Commentary

A GOP Challenge To Trump In 2020: Would Republicans Dare Flip Their Whig?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

For a guy who insists he’s not running for president in 2020, Ohio Gov. John Kasich sure spends a lot of time denying it.


Back To School In California—And Back To This Question: Does The State’s K–12 System Deserve A Passing Grade?

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Thursday, August 17, 2017

If you’re looking to grade public education in California, pass-fail probably isn’t the way to go but make sure to leave plenty of room in the “comments” section of your report card. On the one hand, the system has bred success. The late Steve Jobs was a product of California’s K12 system. 

Analysis and Commentary

Early-Primary States Loves L.A's Mayor. But California? Historically, Not So Much

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two rising stocks have caught my eye – one being Apple, which reached a record high earlier this week before announcing that it’s going to war with Netflix on the video content front.