The 62-year-old Jacksonville native is online every day, seeing if politicians have slipped or gained percentage points.
On Election Night, he's up until about 4 a.m. trying to get results of the last close races. He's done better with predicting presidential races, but in 1994, he was able to correctly call all U.S. Senate races.
In the last five elections, he has kept his misses at two or below. In the U.S. House, his best prediction was four misses.
“The only way to predict is never by what happened in another election. It has to be seat by seat,” he said.
Waller's predictions are only part of his love for elections and Congress.
He said the biggest influence was his mother, who in 1958 introduced him to the study of U.S. presidents and United States history.
It was an interest that continued to grow, and Waller began to look into the history of presidential elections.
For instance, he learned as a child that Democrat James Knox Polk defeated Whig Henry Clay by a margin of 170 over 105 in the Electoral College. However, he said he didn't realize until later how close the election was.
“It came down to Tennessee and New York. … Polk could win the election by taking either. Clay had to win both. The key issue was on annexation of Texas. Clay had to not directly oppose it to carry Tennessee but not champion it or he would lose New York,” Waller said.
“He wound up playing the game just well enough to barely scrape by in Tennessee … (But) Polk carried New York by fewer than 5,000 votes … Henry Clay was almost president.”
Then during the summer of 1977, at age 27, the congressional bug bit, he said. His first influence on the subject was a friend with “The Almanac of American Politics.”
“I wasn't satisfied until I learned where every congressional district was, the boundaries of them, and that gets a little tough sometimes in New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago. Nevertheless, still it's a lot of fun.”
Besides congressional boundaries, he said he wanted to be able to recognize any Congress member from a photograph and each member's voting record, interest group ratings, and chances of re-election.
In high school, he told teachers what he was learning, but found in college that educators were teaching him, he said. Waller attended Stephen F. Austin State University and later went to teach history and government in Jacksonville, along with SAT and ACT preparation. He retired in 2002.
Waller said he believed that an instructor had to be as informed as possible.
“When I took on (teaching) government I was glad I had adapted this knowledge,” he said. “In retirement, it's playing very well for me when I speak at colleges and universities.”
Waller speaks approximately 10 times during the course of the school year. In addition to congressional politics, he has given other talks on specific issues, such as Franklin Roosevelt and New Deal legislation.
For instance, “If I'm asked to give a talk on the 1822 mid-term election, the second term of (former president James) Monroe, I would give the issues and what caused the numbers to rise and fall in each state's delegation, what kept Monroe and his Democratic-Republicans together,” he said.
Lee Payne, assistant professor of political science at Stephen F. Austin State University, has had Waller teach in his Congress class and hopes to have him back this fall.
“He talks about the section over redistricting. He's amazing. He blows away my students, (and) he's a wealth of information,” he said.
Over the years, Waller said he's learned that he loves congressional elections more than presidential elections.
“It's much more interesting to me to watch congressional results. My favorite has always been U.S. House…” Waller said, adding that his favorite House member is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who he said he sees eye to eye with.
“I've heard numerous times people complain that different leaders in Congress don't represent them well. I beg to differ. I found very few members who did not represent their district well.”
Waller used to write his predictions down but stopped about the time he retired. However, he still does it orally, and if someone wants a full list, he'll give it to them.
If the presidential election were held now, he said there are still 14 states that he cannot declare. He estimated the U.S. House might have the smallest net gain by either party since 1976, when Democrats scored a net gain of one in the House.
He said he's also learned valuable lessons about bills and claims that amendments are where he learned the ideology and personality of members of Congress.
In regard to his political affiliation, he said he's been nonpartisan in his speeches and has been as much as 71 percent in agreement and as little as 36 percent in agreement with the Conservative Coalition.
“The left has to do with environmental rights and the right has to do with Cuba,” he said.
Although Waller has other interests, including Italian opera and major league baseball, he said politics always will take the lead.
“These individuals will govern this nation and their majority vote will determine policy and will determine which pieces of legislation will pass,” he said.
“I know the president has the veto power, but I'm always anxious to see who each district will elect. … It's a surprise. I'll never get them all.”