Political Insider






February 2016
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With the elections finally behind us, our focus turns the hard work of governing – and the big question of what, if anything, will get done?

With Republicans controlling Congress and a lame duck Democrat who’s surely thinking about his legacy in the White House, what will give? Or are we about to see gridlock so extreme that the last few years will look incredibly productive in comparison?

It won’t take long to find out. With the President’s Executive Order to remake Immigration in America – and with Republican vows to override – the first battle is on. What’s next? Where are we headed? And is it all really just about 2016?

To help us understand: Jim Gilmore, Founder of Growth PAC. Of course, among many other roles, he’s also former Attorney General and Governor of Virginia and former chair of the Republican National Committee…

Direct download: Jim_Gilmore_11-21-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am EST

Midterms 2014 are just around the corner, and for Repubicans it seems the voting can’t come soon enough. State by state, poll by poll, the GOP appears to pick up steam by the day. They can taste Senate control.

Are the appearances true? Might there even be a Republican wave? Which key races – in the Senate and the House – should we make sure to watch?

David King is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He directed the Task Force on Election Administration for the National Commission on Election Reform following the 2000 presidential elections and recently hosted a conversation on the upcoming Midterms…

Direct download: David_King_10-31-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:21pm EST

It’s almost time – Election Day 2014, Midterm style is less than two weeks away. We can see the finish line from here – unless, that is, the finish line gets moved.

With Republicans seeming more and more likely to take Senate control, could this election instead go into overtime? With possible runoffs in Georgia and Louisiana, recounts in close races, vote count challenges in states like Alaska, decisions by independent candidates on who they will caucus with…  Could control of the Senate hang in the balance until January?

To know the answer for sure, you’d really need a crystal ball… which, of course, is just what we have for you today.

Larry Sabato is University of Virginia Professor of Politics and director of their Center for Politics. He is also Editor in Chief of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the must-read, detailed analysis for elections across the country…

Direct download: Larry_Sabato_10-23-14.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49pm EST

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: 7:32am EST

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: 8:50pm EST

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: 9:23am EST

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: 4:36pm EST

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: 6:12pm EST

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: 10:54am EST

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: 9:23am EST

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