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 writes on politics and current events for His commentary can also be seen on the opinion pages of the The Washington Post and Real Clear Politics, as well as Hoover’s “California On Your Mind” web channel.

Whalen hosts Hoover’s “Area 45” podcast on politics and policy in the age of the Trump presidency and he serves as one of the moderators of Hoover’s “GoodFellows” broadcast on the social, economic and geopolitical consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

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 and Lars Larson.

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.

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 CommentaryPolitics

Republicans Can’t Curb Their Enthusiasm; Time To Jeer The Bern, Or Fear The Bern?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Sunday, February 23, 2020

Tempting though it is to mock Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his ideals and mannerisms – a task made harder when one’s writing on a Sunday night and Curb Your Enthusiasm is about to air – maybe it’s time for Republicans to cool it with the dreams of a Trump cakewalk and down-ballot mayhem in November and think of the self-styled “Democratic socialist” in more formidable terms.

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

Steyer’s Embrace Of Term Limits Suggests A Limited Knowledge Of Sacramento’s Failings

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Some of the Democratic presidential candidates have a natural following in California.


Bill Whalen On The John Batchelor Show

interview with Bill Whalenvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow Bill Whalen discusses the possible reasons why Barack Obama has not endorsed Vice President Joe Biden.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

Mr. Bloomberg Goes To Las Vegas: Do Democrats Want A Quickie Wedding?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

One of the oddities of the 2020 election: learning to count backwards.

Analysis and Commentary

Biden’s Stuck Between Barack And A Hard Place

by Bill Whalenvia Real Clear Politics
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

For all of the agonizing within Joe Biden’s inner circle over how to cure what ails the former vice president’s anemic presidential run – fourth place in Iowa, fifth place in New Hampshire, presumably another setback in Nevada this weekend – there’s an obvious fix: roll out Barack Obama’s endorsement post haste.

PoliticsAnalysis and Commentary

California’s Presidential Primary: A Democratic Kingmaker, Or The Making Of A Royal Headache?

by Bill Whalenvia California on Your Mind
Thursday, February 13, 2020

Stormy weather brought high winds and mountain snow to parts of California last weekend. At the risk of getting out over our skis, it’s time to consider the growing probability of the otherwise improbable every four years: California as an important player in the presidential selection process.

Featured CommentaryEureka

Advice for the Governor: Don’t Overplay Your Trump Card

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Dear Governor Newsom: First, I’d like to wish you a productive and prosperous 2020. It’s your second year in office; you have an ambitious agenda and, thanks to a strong economy and a generous revenue stream, the resources to make some of that vision a reality. Good luck making that so.


Advice For The Governor: Fix A Bad Labor Law, Beware Of Tax Increases—And Focus On Narrowing The State’s Social Divide

by Bill Whalenvia Eureka
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

If the first month of the first year of the century’s second decade is an indication, Californians are in for a long 2020.

Analysis and CommentaryPolitics

New Hampshire – And Same Old Anxiety For Democrats?

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Monday, February 10, 2020

Unless one of the Democratic presidential candidates does something truly suicidal in the next 24 hours – i.e., fly in Joaquin Phoenix to discuss the anthropological arrogance of cow’s milk with Connecticut River Valley dairy farmers – here are some New Hampshire primary focal points.


Democrats Should Be Thinkin’: Ditch Iowa For The Land Of Lincoln

by Bill Whalenvia Forbes
Thursday, February 6, 2020

As I write this, 3% of Iowa’s vote is still unaccounted for (I’m reminded of a past election in San Francisco, when missing ballot boxes turned up floating in the bay) and the chair of the Democratic National Committee wants a recanvass of caucus results.