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

IntroductionAnalysis and Commentary

California’s Open-Primary Reform Leaves Open Questions As To Its Effect On Golden State Politics

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A funny thing happened to California on the way to its moment of glory as the decider of the fate of the next Republican presidential nominee. Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich abruptly quit the race in early May, a month before California’s June 7 vote, leaving the California landscape wide open to Donald Trump.

Analysis and Commentary

Are The Golden State Warriors And Hillary Clinton, Campaign Warrior, A Step Too Slow?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, May 28, 2016

By the time you read this, the Golden State Warriors record-setting season may have come to an abrupt end at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Analysis and Commentary

Three Reasons Why Hoping For One Last Democratic Debate Is California Dreaming

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

So Hillary passed on doing one more presidential debate with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. It would have been in California – most likely in San Francisco, at some point before the Golden State’s June 7 primary.

Analysis and Commentary

Once Hillary Starts Haggling With Bernie, Does She End Up Living On Tulsi Time?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, May 21, 2016

The reclusive yet ruthless Howard Hughes once remarked: “Every man has his price, or a guy like me couldn’t exist.” As far as presidential politics is concerned, Hughes was dead right. Be it paying off campaign debt or the shiny lure of a new job in Washington, most also-rans can be easily bought.


Top-Two Primary Hinders Republicans In Bid For U.S. Senate Seat

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, May 19, 2016

To Will Rogers’ observation that Congress is America’s only distinctly criminal class, I give you California’s two U.S. senators. This isn’t to imply that either gentlelady is a criminal. Yet in California, getting elected to the Senate has felony status: instead of one six-year term, you get 25 years to life.


Still Time To Mount A Third-Party Run, But (So Far) No Horse To Mount

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Here’s one way to view what’s going on in Republican circles these days: push and pull. After pushing around a handful of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination (“Low-Energy” Jeb, “Little” Marco, “Lyin’” Ted, etc.), Donald Trump’s now pushing his chair closer to the conservative table.


In A Clinton-Trump Race, Just How Much Could The Map Change?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, May 14, 2016

The recent polling news that has Donald Trump is in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton in Florida and Pennsylvania and has a slight lead in Ohio couldn’t come at a better time for Republicans.

Analysis and Commentary

Donald Trump, Paul Ryan And GOP 'Unity.' It's All About The Numbers, America

by Bill Whalenvia Fox News
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Just days after Donald Trump showed faint interest in building broad-based Republican support and House Speaker Paul Ryan seemed averse to his party’s nominee-in-waiting, the two have met and now there’s talk of GOP “unity.”

Analysis and Commentary

The Reality Of The Situation: Trump Might As Well Fully Embrace Reality TV

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Saturday, May 7, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden has a beef with Donald Trump. Actually, it’s more like a ground beef, cheese and sour green atop a baked tortilla.


California Politics In 2016 Is A ’90s Greatest Hits Album

by Bill Whalenvia Sacramento Bee
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Somewhere between the 10-year siege of Troy and the Thirty Years’ War, there’s California’s two decades and counting of political redundancy. In 1994, Mexican flag-waving protesters flooded downtown Los Angeles in opposition to the anti-immigrant Proposition 187.