Bill Whalen

Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism

Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism and 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

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics—And California’s “Red Ceiling”

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, November 15, 2018

For all the talk of a “blue wave” and a “red wall” colliding in this election, let’s talk about the “red ceiling” in the nation’s biggest (and pretty much bluest) state.

Analysis and Commentary

One Way To View The Midterm Results: A Market Correction

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Friday, November 9, 2018

Political junkies weren’t the only ones who had a busy week. Consider what America’s investor class experienced. On Monday, not quite knowing what the following day would bring, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 200 points – a nice change from a volatile October.


California’s 2018 Vote: Limited Drama, Plenty of Uncounted Votes, And Lots of Needed Repairs

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Friday, November 9, 2018

Not that California elections are predictable, but most every cycle over the past twenty years has played out as follows.


A Few Questions About Tomorrow’s California Vote

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Monday, November 5, 2018

America’s nation-state goes to the polls tomorrow, where candidates receive the high honor of holding public office and ideas pass or fail.

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Analysis and Commentary

An Election Day Viewing Guide

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, November 4, 2018

I’ll be watching the Election Day returns from California. The good news: given the time difference, it’s an all-day affair that hopefully won’t run late into the night. The bad news: here in the Golden State, there's no such creature as a big sexy statewide race. Lots of drama down-ticket, yes, in the form of hotly contested congressional contests (more on that in a moment). However, our gubernatorial and Senate races have the look and feel of done deals.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

Which Team Has A Worse Record Than The 49ers And Raiders? The California GOP

by Bill Whalenvia The Sacramento Bee
Thursday, November 1, 2018

As if California didn’t already test your patience, try this for cringe-worthy viewing: the Raiders and the 49ers playing each other this week, which seemed like a good idea before the season started. Going into their Thursday night encounter in Santa Clara, the two Bay area NFL teams were a combined two wins and 13 losses.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

Why California Is A Pivotal Elections Player Again

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Thursday, November 1, 2018

In what already has been a strange election year in terms of changing narratives and fluctuating polls, here’s another oddity: California, historically an overrated commodity as far as national political influence is concerned, is now quite relevant.

Analysis and Commentary

With One Week Until Election Day, One Factor Trumps All

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We can talk about all sorts of variables that will go into next week’s vote: the weather, what dominates the weekend news cycle, voting irregularities and so forth. But in the end, this election is about one thing: President Trump.

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Timeless Values

by Bill Whalen interview with Thomas W. Gilliganvia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 29, 2018

Director Thomas W. Gilligan looks ahead to the Hoover Institution’s centenary and to another century of defending America’s core values.

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

The South (Of California) Will Rise Again—Just Not In This Election

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, October 25, 2018

In poker, a full house beats a flush, which in turn which tops a straight and three-of-a-kind.