Political Wire Podcast






October 2014
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We’re proud to have as our guest today – our sponsor, Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Report and Columnist for the National Journal.

Few follow the ins and outs of political campaigns more closely than Cook and his team of reporters and editors. And with less than three weeks to go before the new "most important election of our lifetimes," they’re tracking all the key races and trends – in particular, who will take control of the U.S. Senate.

Direct download: Charlie_Cook_10-15-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:32 AM

With less than a month to go, the question that’s been at the center of the midterm elections continues to be the big unknown: Who will take control of the Senate.

We know that stats: 36 races are on the ballots; to takeover control, Republicans need a net gain of 6. And the closer we get, the more the contest seems to be coming down to just 4 or 5 key states.

As listeners of this podcast know, most predictions show probabilities leaning toward a Republican win. Of course, a few notable exceptions exist.

And now a new one: the Women’s Voices Women’s Vote Action Fund and Democracy Corp teamed up to look at the Senate races. Their finding: For the first time in this election cycle, movement across a “range of indicators that suggest the Democrats are more likely to hold control of the U.S. Senate than not.”

The survey was conducted by Stan Greenberg, longtime Democratic pollster, Polling adviser to President Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Nelson Mandela, among many others; CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Co-Founder Democracy Corps.

Direct download: Stan_Greenberg_10-8-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:50 AM

Is there any office in American politics with simultaneously more and less power than the Vice Presidency?

Indeed, there may be no phrase in American politics that carries more unspoken meanings than “A heartbeat away.” It’s been used to create fear and doubt, as well as confidence and sure-handedness. It’s both an insult and an honor – the burden and opportunity that comes with attaining our nation’s second-highest office.

In recent campaigns, the office has taken on incredible – even outsized – importance. From the Veepstakes watches that dominate coverage for months to the nominees themselves -- Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle; Al Gore and Jack Kemp; Sarah Palin and Joe Biden – the vice president’s role today carries unquestioned importance.

But this wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, the vice presidency was a laughing stock, a place to hide people, placate others and at times, just plain disappear. What changed?

Jules  Witcover is the famed syndicated political columnist at the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and Star and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of 14 books; co-author of 5 others. His most recent book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power”…

Direct download: Jules_Witcover_10-2-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:23 PM

It remains impossible to talk about the 2014 Midterms without turning immediately to the big question – the only question –which party will take Senate Control? And who are we to fight that power?

So while we wait 6 weeks for actual results, we turn instead to predictive analysis –deep dives into dozens of race-by-race polls that seem to be released hourly. What do they show? How many seats are truly still in play? Where should we focus attention, and within that focus, what should we be looking for. And most simply, can’t anyone just tell us who’s going to win?

Sam Wang is an Associate professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is also founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, where he publishes one of the most-watched polling models around. Sam’s model has come under some scrutiny this election season, as it’s been one of the few models consistently predicting that the Democrats will retain the Senate. What does Wang know that the rest of us don’t?

Direct download: Sam_Wang_9-24-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36 PM

As we make our way towards the first Tuesday in November, a highly-watched, always-debated component of American politics is ready to take it’s place center stage: Statistical models.

These models, which connect and weight a range of ever-changing data, have replaced the simple “who will win by how many points” projections. And with Senate control both still undetermined and central to our political future, understanding these models is key.

And, of course, none of these models is better known or more anticipated than Nate Silver’s.

Nate Silver almost single-handedly brought the art and science of political statistical modeling in our cultural mainstream. He is founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight…

Direct download: Nate_Silver_9-17-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12 PM

Every topic has its own slang, it’s own lingua franca. From football’s NFL stadiums to academia’s ivory towers to California’s beaches, every niche these days maintains a coded language of its own.

To really understand these niches – to be clear on what’s behind the headlines, what people are really saying, what’s really going on – you need to speak the language. And if you don’t speak the language, you better have the right dictionary.

Politics, of course, is no different. Here, “deep regret” is something you express only when you feel no remorse. “Bomb throwers” are celebrated, but “bridge builders” are sellouts. And the last thing you want to be is someone’s “good friend.”

To help us navigate the doublespeak and double-dealing that define the language of politics: Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark. McCutcheon is co-author of National Journal’s Almanac of American Politics and co-editor of CQ’s Politics in America 2010. Mark is Editor in Chief of Politix and former senior editor at Politico. Together, they are co-authors of the book, “Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang ,and Bluster of American Political Speech."

Direct download: Chuck_McCutcheon_and_David_Mark_9-9-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:54 PM

Finally, summer is over! The relaxation, beach vacations and barbecues are finally behind us and in this post-Labor Day glow, Americans can focus on our prime national sport – the one with the late hits, flagrant fouls and crazy fanatics.

Of course, I mean politics.

And while this glorious season brings out the political junkies, it also brings out the political crazies. The extremists who have spent their time since the last election cycle tearing down the governments we elected and creating the conflict that makes politics a full-contact sport.

As we speed into final lap of Midterms 2014, where do we stand? What is the state of our political debate? With President Obama’s approval ratings continuing to flounder – and with Senate control still an open question – what role might political extremism have on our campaigns and results?

Few follow process and the politics more closely than John Avlon. He’s editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, a CNN contributor, and the author of multiple books including the recently released: “Wing Nuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama”…

Direct download: John_Avlon_9-4-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:23 PM

In little more than a week, we’ll mark 40 years since one of the darkest days in American politics, government and culture – 40 years since President Richard Nixon resigned our nation’s highest office.

Much has been written and reviewed about Watergate. So much that there would seem little room for anything new.

But there is.

John Dean played a key role in the Watergate tale.  He served as counsel to the President during that time, and while he did not know of the break-in when it occurred nor of White House involvement for many months later, he found himself – perhaps unwittingly – becoming a central player in what he calls The Nixon Defense.

In the last years, Dean listened to and transcribed the primary Watergate source material: Nixon’s own White House recordings. Incredibly, many of these conversations have never been transcribed, cataloged and examined. That’s what Dean has done, and in the process – he says – connected the dots between what we believe about Watergate and what actually occurred. He has documented it all in a new book: “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.”

Direct download: John_Dean_7-28-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19 PM

It’s time to review what may become the most important words in the 2014 Midterm and 2016 Presidential campaigns.

These words are not immigration or gun control or employment. They’re neither liberal or conservative

The most important words just may be microtargeting. Data mining. Analytics. That’s because the science of campaigning is hitting an all new level.

Not only can politicians and campaigns target you through direct mail and online – through websites, social media, blogs and more. They are now combining data about what you buy, wear and read with television – yes, what you watch. And not just which channel, but which show: Every click you make. And while big brother can’t connect all of this data down to you personally – at least not as far as we know – the science of campaigning is innovating at record speed.

What does this mean for the future of campaigns and voter turnout? How exactly will politicians deliver the right messages to the right voters at the right time? And while it’s all surely fascinating, is it good?


Alex Lundry is one of the political world’s foremost campaign scientists. He served as Director of Data Science for Mitt Romney in the 2012 campaign. He is now co-founder of Deep Root Analytics and Chief Data Scientist at Target Point Consulting, helping define the vanguard and intersection of political and technical development…

Direct download: Alex_Lundry_7-21-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46 PM

Is political courage dead? The question gets asked a lot these days, most recently around President Obama and the immigration-border control disaster. Joe Klein of Time wrote what many of us feel: “True political courage is near extinct.” He continued: “Nowadays politicians are swaddled by their media consultants, who determine whether it is ‘safe’ to be ‘courageous.’”

Of course, it’s not just immigration. Pick any issue – health care, gun control, voter ID laws – and the lack of political courage is astounding. And it’s taking its toll – as the public’s disapproval of government – Congress and the President – reaches all time highs.

So today, a small but very bright example of political courage during times of very depressing headlines.

Noam Bramson is the mayor of New Rochelle, NY. He recently put a personal confession on the top of his webpage. Bramson wrote about his own complicit silence in a recent city council meeting – silence when local residents complained that they didn’t want a group home for 5 men with autism opened on their street. He wrote about his shame, and his now public stance in favor of the group home some of his very good and loyal constituents don’t want.

I guarantee the piece will move you and restore – if only for a moment – your faith that political courage may not have completely died.

Before we begin, my own confession: I am not the most objective person on this topic. Not only do I have a sister-in-law who lives in a similar type of assisted living home, but I’ve known Noam Bramson for more than 20 years. I’ve donated to his campaign. So has Taegan Goddard, publisher of Political Wire.

But I feel strongly that the sinking trust in government is a national crisis and small acts of political courage is a conversation worth having. And I’m confident, by the end of this conversation, so will you…

Direct download: Noam_Bramson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51 PM

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