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Tom Davis

Former US representative from Virginia (1995-2008) and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)

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Director, University of Virginia Center for Politics 

Rhodes Cook has been an avid observer of American politics virtually his entire life, since watching with captivation the 1956 Democratic national convention on his family’s new black-and-white television set.

For more than 20 years, Rhodes worked as a political reporter 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 interest in the presidential nominating process and voting trends in general.

Upon retiring from Congressional Quarterly in 1997, Rhodes launched this web site and in 2000 a bimonthly political newsletter, “The Rhodes Cook Letter.” It continues to this day. Over the years he has written blogs for the Wall Street Journal online edition and freelance pieces for the Washington Post. Rhodes is currently a senior columnist for “Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball,” an online publication of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Since 1996, Rhodes has compiled America Votes, a biennial collection of nationwide election data that was initiated in the 1950s by Richard Scammon. He has also written a series of books on the presidential nominating process – Race for the Presidency, a guidebook to the nominating process and its rules, which was published on a quadrennial basis from 1988 through 2008; United States Presidential Primary Elections, 1968-1996 and 2000-04, a collection of state presidential primary results down to the county level; and a Presidential Nominating Process: A Place for Us? The latter looked at the development of the nominating process from the early years of the republic to the early 21st century. It was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2004. The others were printed by CQ Press.

For three and half decades, Rhodes has spent election nights projecting the outcome of congressional races – first for ABC News (1982 through 1988), then the Voter News Service (from 1994 through 2000), and with ABC News again since 2002.

Rhodes grew up in State College, Pa., and graduated from Penn State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts 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 ultimate compromise candidate, who was chosen by the Democrats in 1924 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.

Before entering the world of journalism he had a checkered career working for presidential campaigns – first, that of Republican Richard Nixon in the summer of 1968; then, that of Democrat George McGovern in 1971-72.

Rhodes lives in Annandale, Va., with his wife, Memrie. They have a daughter and two grandsons.