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Center for Politics Staff

Rhodes Cook

Senior Columnist

Rhodes Cook has been an avid observer of American politics virtually his entire life, since watching with captivation the national conventions of 1956 on his family’s new black-and-white television set. As a senior columnist, Rhodes contributes articles and essays on American campaign and election politics to Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a non-partisan political analysis web site created by Center director Larry Sabato.

For much of the last quarter century, Rhodes worked as a political writer for the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, serving as senior writer for more than a decade. He covered both presidential and congressional elections, with a particular emphasis on the presidential nominating process and voting trends in general.

Since his retirement from CQ in 1997, Rhodes has launched this web site and a separate bimonthly political newsletter: The Rhodes Cook Letter, authored a variety of election-related books, and written a number of free-lance pieces for the Washington Post and Public Perspective, the latter a publication of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. He was a contributing editor for Public Perspective.

Rhodes’ most recent book-The Presidential Nominating Process: A Place for Us?-was published in 2004 as part of the Center for Politics’ “American Political Challenges” series by Rowman & Littlefield. His other recent books, all published by CQ Press, include the 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002 editions of America Votes, a biennial compilation of nationwide electoral data begun in the 1950s by Richard M. Scammon. The 2004 edition is due out this fall. Rhodes has also written, U.S. Primary Elections 1995-1996 and 1997-1998, both cousins of America Votes; U.S. Presidential Primaries, 1968-1996, a compilation of county-by-county presidential primary results over the last third of the 20th century; as well as a pair of guidebooks on the presidential nominating process: Race for the Presidency, Winning the 2000 Nomination, and Race for the Presidency, Winning the 2004 Nomination. He is also co-author of How Congress Gets Elected.

Rhodes has done a variety of public speaking, including frequent appearances at CQ post-election conferences, on-air analysis for BBC Radio on election night 1992, and participation as a panelist in a third-party presidential debate in the fall of 1996 that was nationally televised on C-SPAN. From 1994 through 2000, he worked with the Voter News Service (VNS) on election nights to help project the outcome of congressional races. He had a similar role with ABC News since 2002.

Rhodes grew up in State College, Pa., and graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in 1969 and a master’s degree in history in 1973. He wrote his master’s thesis on “The Presidential Candidacy of John W. Davis,” the spectacularly unsuccessful Democratic nominee in 1924, who was chosen on the 103rd ballot. The topic combined Rhodes’ interest in elections and the “also-rans” of American politics, whose presence in race after race make the winners possible.

Rhodes lives in Annandale, Va., with his wife, Memrie. Their daughter, Shannon, is in graduate school.